Despite having achieved few legislative accomplishments since winning their majority, House Democrats are proposing a $4,500 pay raise for Members of Congress.
This pay raise is being proposed as part of the FY 2020 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill in spite of Republican opposition.
This would lift the Congressional pay-freeze first put in place in 2009 and maintained under Republican control of Congress between 2010 and 2018.
Congressional salaries are already more than triple that of the average American worker, who earns $56,515 annually. It’s also higher than what lawyers make, with an average of $142,000, chemical engineers, who make about $103,000, pilots, at $170,000, computer programmers with more than $85,000, and about the same as dentists.
This provision would gift a “cost of living adjustment” worth $4,500 per year to every member of congress, boosting their salaries which currently sit at $174,000 annually.
Critics have pointed to the lack of tangible results that House Democrats have produced since they took the majority at the beginning of the year. Analysis by Roll Call found that more than 20% of the votes the House has taken since the government opened back up in late January have been non-binding.
Non-binding votes do not carry the force of law or actually enact any legislative measures, they simply give legislators a chance to take political stances on whatever issue they choose for the day. Many of these non-binding votes have been taken on issues that most Americans would consider less than critically important. Examples include votes on transgender service members, Islamophobia and “hate” in the United States, and making the almost entirely public Mueller report public.
Republican members have criticized this reliance on non-binding resolutions, and in some cases have begun to protest the votes themselves. They have also hinted that these measures could be used in the Republican case for 2020 by branding the Democratic majority as a do-nothing House.
Republicans have also opposed increasing their own salaries. Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) signaled his opposition to House Democrats’ proposed raise:
“I think the American people would think that Congress ought to earn it first.”
A congressional pay raise is also unpopular with the American people. A Business Insider poll from earlier this year found that 55% of respondents believed a pay cut was in order for the legislative branch, and just 9% of Americans approved of a pay raise.
While Democrats won the House by claiming they were going to improve the lives of hard working Americans, they have failed to achieve anything significant. Rather than pushing commonsense proposals that benefit the country, they are now proposing to give themselves a pay raise.