Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) is fighting pressure to agree to a pay cut for members of Congress, instead complaining that the $174,000 annual salary was already frozen.
On Monday, Terry’s Democratic challenger, State Sen. Brad Ashford, proposed that congressional salaries be cut 10 percent and promised to do so unilaterally if elected. Terry, in response, took umbrage at the notion that congressmen are overpaid.
“What he’s not telling you is that Congress hasn’t had a cost of living increase since 2008, when I led the charge for a freeze,” Terry told KMTV. Members of Congress last voted for a raise of $4,700 in 2009.
In calling for the pay cut, Ashford invoked Congress’ abysmally unproductive session. “To leave Congress in the state that it was left last week, in my view, is not serving the needs of the people,” the state senator said.
This is not the first time Terry has complained about his salary. In 2013, during the Republican-led government shutdown that furloughed up to one million American workers, many members of Congress gave up their paychecks as a symbolic gesture. Terry refused at first.
Despite voting to prolong the shutdown, Terry explained to the Omaha World-Herald why he especially needed to keep collecting a salary. “I’ve got a nice house and a kid in college, and I’ll tell you we cannot handle it,” Terry said. “Giving our paycheck away when you still worked and earned it? That’s just not going to fly.” The comments blew up, forcing Terry to backtrack and agree not to collect his salary until after the shutdown ended.
Even as Terry complains about his own recent lack of pay increases, it’s a reality the middle class has lived with for three decades. Median household income was flat during the 1980s and 1990s, and it actually dropped nearly $4,000 in the 2000s. What’s more, when Terry had multiple opportunities to give minimum wage workers a raise, he repeatedly voted “no,” most recently in 2013.
(HT: Daily Kos Elections)