NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 26, 2006

A provision that would give cost-of-living adjustments to various federal officials -- including a 2 percent raise for Congress -- is tucked into a bill the House of Representatives passed this month to fund the Department of Transportation and other agencies, says Kathy Kiely of USA Today.

This issue of congressional pay has long been a sensitive matter, in part because it's substantial. But despite earning roughly four times the salary of an average American, lawmaker's salaries may not be as outrageous as they look.  Consider:

  • Lawmakers earn the same as federal district judges, deputy Cabinet secretaries, heads of major agencies and some senior federal bureaucrats.
  • Supreme Court justices, top congressional leaders and Cabinet secretaries earn more.
  • President Bush earns $400,000 a year.
  • The incurred cost of maintaining homes in two places, one of which is in one of the most expensive areas in the country.
  • In recent years, members of Congress have lost ground to inflation, earning $710 less in real terms than they did in 2001

Sen. Russ Feingold said last week that he'll try to stop the pay increase, and Sen. Hillary Clinton has authored a bill that would tie increases in congressional pay to increases in the minimum wage.  Others, such as Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, would prefer to see congressional pay hikes tied to the federal deficit, now projected at $300 billion or more.

Source: Kathy Kiely, "Some lawmakers balk at proposed boost in salaries," USA Today, June 25, 2006

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