Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) introduced a bill last week to cut pay for members of Congress by $8,700 a year — or five percent — and freeze their automatic cost-of-living increase. With Congress’ approval ratings “spiraling downward,” the cost-of-living pay increase “has become largely unpopular.” “Families across the country are getting by on lower wages…so why shouldn’t senators and representatives have to feel the same pinch?” Kirkpatrick said. The cut would be the first since the Great Depression:
The first-term congresswoman said she’s hopeful, given the enormous fiscal challenges facing the country, the measure can pass. She said she’s already started handing over 5 percent of her pay every month — or $870 — to help chisel away at the national debt. The monthly payment would have been less, but Kirkpatrick is, according to her office, paying extra to make up for the two months of 2010 she missed.
“I’m putting my money where my mouth is. I’m leading by example and I hope my colleagues will join me,” she said. [...]
“The last time Congress took a cut in pay was 77 years ago. I don’t know anyone who has not had a pay cut in 77 years.”
Members of Congress are currently paid $174,000 — leaders earn more — and Kirkpatrick’s office estimates the proposal would save $4.66 million a year. “Though it’s slight compared with the $12.5 trillion debt,” Kirkpatrick argued that it’s hard to justify the automatic pay increases in the current economic situation. So far, 21 lawmakers from both parties have signed on as co-sponsors and the measure is being considered in two House committees.