Would you give Congress a raise?

By VA Blogger

Oops, too late. They already gave themselves one.


  • P2P says:

    The Legislature is giving out Billion dollar handouts like gum balls with zero transparency and they want to give themselves a merit increase for falling asleep at the economic wheel.

    This is me pounding my head on my desk…

  • Lee J says:

    This really burns me up and I am writing my congress people today. Hopefully Obama and others newly elected can start helping us get out of these horrible economic times with their own fiscal responsibility. There should be an oversight of these raises and other perks congress gets or tries to hide in many of their bills. Seems they pass laws that limit their perks and then pass laws that give many of these perks right back buried deep in new legislation that passes many times under the radar of the average American.

  • Michael Savage says:

    Did Wolf vote for it?

  • RichmondDem says:

    Yet they have the audacity to yell at the Big Three CEOs for flying private jets, and talk about how CEOs also shouldn’t be getting bonuses during a recession. Unbelievable.

  • Va Blogger says:

    I suppose I should clarify:

    Since 1998, Congress raises it’s salary automatically by about 2.8% for cost of living adjustments. Unless there is a specific procedural motion to stop it, it happens without a vote. Presumably so no incumbent has to actually put their name on record and have it used against them in a campaign ad.

  • Moderate R says:

    It’s an automatic raise – they didn’t vote for it.

  • Alter of Freedom says:

    Its an automatic raise—they didn’t vote for it…and they accuse big business of being out of touch. Whens the last time any of us ever got an automatic raise? A bonus fine, but an “automatic raise”? I find it rather ironic these are the same people that had such propblems with exec from the lickes of AIG and others giving themselves bonus using taxpayer money….well Congress your raise is taxpayer money as well. If our country were a business we would be bankrupt many times over but then Congress is the expert on how business should work.

  • RichmondDem says:

    I’m slightly less outraged that it is automatic. Still, it’d be nice if someone spoke up and said “Should we really be doing this given the state of the country?”

  • Va Blogger says:

    I’m sure many of the “pure” squad of House Republicans like Mike Pence and others are opposed to it, but the only person I know who has consistently spoken out against it is Democrat Jim Matheson of Utah.

  • Disappointed says:

    Hold on here.

    Most Representatives ARE in favor of it, given that most have kids of college age while owning two houses (one in DC, one back home). As well as 2 cars (one here, one home). And 2 internet service providers. And 2 cable providers. And 2 utility bills. And so on and so on.

    It’s not cheap.

    Ask Mike Pence, whose family owns a house in Arlington and Indiana, about not getting a raise while his property taxes are being raised. I’m doubtful that he’d say he didn’t need it.

  • Va Blogger says:

    Why does a Congressman need a car in DC?

    And I know of plenty of Congressmen who either sleep in their office or rent a room with other legislators.

  • Disappointed says:

    I don’t think that’s fair to say “We elected you to go to Washington and make decisions for our nation. You don’t need a car. Sleep in your office. Don’t have a life. Oh. And only eat the wraps in the Members Dining Room, which closes at 2:30pm.”

    What are you expecting of these humans?? Geez.

    Collectively, Congress sucks. But individually, most of our representatives do deserve some sort of a COLA.

  • Va Blogger says:

    I think saying that people making $165K “need” an adjustment is a bit of a stretch. And it’s not like we elected them out of the blue, unwillingly. They volunteered to run.

  • NovaConservative says:

    The key to a better Congress is attracting top quality people. Members of Congress are woefully underpaid. We pay the people making laws in this country a fraction of what we play CEOs and executives. And then we complain when they leave and go become lobbyists.

    You lose good members of Congress for this reason. More and more members decide to retire in order to make money. Its not a good situation. A successful person would be a good representative but has a family basically is precluding from ever running for Congress because they’d have to take a pay cut when you factor in the increased expenses.

  • Alter of Freedom says:

    Gee too bad I guess they just miss Obama’s income tax break limit; that is if he cuts taxes as promised that is.

  • Va Blogger says:

    I’ve never complained about a Congressman becoming a lobbyist.

    Moreover, I don’t think Congress’s salary should be increased, because I don’t want people running for office for the paycheck. Virginia pays less than $20K a year for delegates, and there’s no shortgage of candidates running for office.

    Some people are cut out to be public servants, and some people aren’t. If you are, you find a way to make the finances work in order for the priveledge of serving in office.

    My sympathy does not extend to people that willingly sign up for it.

  • NoVA Scout says:

    do you think if we doubled the compensation, we might get a better class of people vying for the jobs? A lot of these guys aren’t the real cream of the crop when it comes to the American labor force. After all, Rod Blagojevitch (did I spell that correctly?) was a Congressman before he was governor. Virgil Goode also comes to mind.

  • Alter of Freedom says:

    I wonder how you monitize the perks at the delegate level though. What burns me at the State level is Virginia had historically always had a diverse group of delegates from varying industry and background but now it seems like simply nothing more than another club for lawyers. Don’t get me wrong, they are there to legislate, but would it not be better off to have that diversity. I get the delegate gig is a part-time thing, but the 20K is mute given the levels of income these guys are getting from the firms who backed them in their campaigns. Its just another level of lobbying frankly or at the very least attempting to power grab influence but its an open system anyone can run or at least try to I guess.

  • Alter of Freedom says:

    If a Congressman is paid somewhere around 140-150K, where does the pay for his staff come from. In listening to the Caroline Kennedy development they were saying she get the best staff, but who pays for them. Some of these Congressman have huge staffs others very small; does this money come from money they raise in PACS or does the federal government cover it and who is paying the benefits like healthcare for these staff. I heard a little of this about when Warner was picking his staff for his new Senate office, anyone know where all the money comes from to staff these offices officially?

  • Disappointed says:

    Congressmen can hire a maximum of 18 people for their personal office. Most exercise this option.

    Staff salary and benefits are paid for by US taxpayers. They, too, receive the COLA. Everyone gets the COLA.

    Which congressman will stand up for us and say: “My staff doesn’t deserve an increase because the cost of living has changed. My colleagues don’t need one. DON’T GIVE US A PAY INCREASE!”

  • anon says:

    What’s up with the Jody Wagner ads on the front page? Aren’t you guys supposed to trend Republican?

  • Alter of Freedom says:

    Anon- I think its probably a feed generator for the ad and is not placed directly by the site. I saw quite a few Mccain/Palin ads on liberal aggregators during the campaign and even Ann Coulter banners.

  • NovaConservative says:

    Alter of Freedom–wow. Where do I start with this. Each office is given a budget. In varies by the population they represent–obviously in the House it is roughly the same, save for some difference in real estate costs for district offices. The other variable is committee staff. If you are the chairman or the ranking member of a committee, you get a staff.

    All employees are federal employees paid from the legislative branch allocation. Their employment is controlled by the individual member but their actual checks come from the House and Senate as a whole. Individual members can augment staff income out of their personal funds, but it is illegal for them to do so from campaign funds. They can maintain campaign staff but you cannot be both official and campaign staff at once–you must go off payroll.

    Staff salaries are a HUGE issue. The budgets are not adquate to staff with experienced professionals. The average length of a service for a Senate staffer is under 2 years. That is bad for everyone–the member, the staffer, and the taxpayer who loses experienced staffers.

    At all levels, congressional pay is not even close to competitive. There is no dobut in my mind that higher pay would attract both better members of Congress and better staff.

  • Amit says:

    I don’t mind that Congress gets a raise every now and then but I think this year specifically was not the year to get one given the economy. In fact I would not mind if Congress got even more than 2.8% raises if it were tied to performance. Perhaps paying Congress member 3.5 times the average US salary every year. So when a lot of folks lose their jobs, Congress would get a pay cut too. I know this would never happen but I still like to think about it.

  • Zrii Bee says:

    I tend to agree. Bad timing but with everything goniong on now there probably will be no fallout or even much attention to it. maybe they should only be able to grant themselves a raise if they actaully balance a budget at some point.

  • Loudoun Moderate says:

    Two points: a) They know the salaries when the run for office; b) considering the amount of time they actually spend on the job, what does their compensation work out per hour? And their perks are huge: excellent health insurance and fat retirement checks to name only two. I don’t feel their pain–not one bit! Plus, if I had to write their collective performance evaluation, it would be “underperformance, improvement required.” A “D” at best.

    Our country is in a terrible state and I believe it would have been appropriate if the Hill had refused a raise this year.

  • G. Stone says:

    Some good points by all.

    The only thing I would add is if we don’t make salaries enough for regular guys ( those who our founding fathers intended be citizen legislators ) to run for office ( specifically the house and the Senate ) and contribute we will end up with a wealthy entrenched ruling class. Only those independently wealthy lawyers or hedge fund managers will be able to run.

    We then scratch our heads and wonder why these guys can’t relate with regular Americans.
    I don’t have a problem with lawyers in congress, I just don’t think every seat needs to be filled by one. How about some diversity.

  • RichmondDem says:

    “b) considering the amount of time they actually spend on the job, what does their compensation work out per hour?”

    What does one Congressman say to the other on Wednesday?

    “Have a good weekend!”

  • RichmondDem says:

    “And I know of plenty of Congressmen who either sleep in their office or rent a room with other legislators.
    – Va Blogger ”

    Not to mention that if you’re from the mid-Atlantic (VA, MD, PA, DE, NJ), there’s no reason you shouldn’t be commuting on the train.

  • Zrii Bee says:

    G. Stone- great point there, there do not all have to lawyers now do they? But the real answer is is all about who has the time to run and can afford to run, especially for a House seat. I mean alot of the Delegates are lawyers of their own practices and can campaign and make the schedule work around the office and being in court(if they ever have to go that is) but others who may work for someone else have to be in the position to resign and then run and campaign for what is really an unknown. Thats can be a huge risk for most folks so lawyers always seem to make it work better I guess.

  • Lee J says:

    Most companies are not run by lawyers.

    Lawyers serve them.

    So why should the biggest company in the world the USA be run by lawyers. ????????

    Lawyers provide a service and certainly not should they be in control of the hen house.

  • NovaConservative says:

    Wow, Richmond Dem. Probably one of the most ignorant things ever written on this board, and that’s saying something.

    Go shadow your average member of Congress for one week. I guarantee you that you will be both exhausted and amazed. The myth that members of Congress don’t work hard is completely and totally false. Sure, there are a few lazy members, but for every lazy member there are 10 that are working 7 days a week.

    Yes, they run for the jobs, so I’m not saying they deserve sympathy, but I am saying that they work hard and its ridiculous that people who are supposed to be reasonably intelligent don’t realize that. Its a tough life–out almost every night, events on weekends, etc. The job of a member goes well beyond when the House or Senate is in session.

  • Moderate R says:

    NovaConservative is absolutely right. All of the nonsense I hear about Congressmen and Senators leaving charmed lives, never having to actually work and getting paid exorbitant amounts of money is baloney. All of the nonsense the media likes to hype on the President for spending time in Crawford “on vacation” is the same crap. As an elected member of Congress, senior cabinet official or higher, you never get time off. Never. You are always working. Weekends, holidays, 2 AM – you’re always working. I can’t tell you how many 2 AM and 3 AM emails I would get when I was working for one of those people.

    Commuting is not always an option, even for folks who live in the area. At least for Congress, you’re having votes after 6 PM at the earliest Monday-Friday now (it was Tues-Thurs when Republicans were in charge – not because they didn’t want to work, but because they placed more value on being at home and working with constituents than hanging around DC), and that excludes fundraising and campaigning time, which is critical for House members who are forced to be campaigning all the time, especially if they’re in competitive seats.

    Staff are always underpaid, and as a result you have laws being written by 24 year olds who make less than your average barrista at Starbucks.

    The budget allocations given to each member office include salaries, benefits and overhead costs, including computers, printers, paper, etc and it’s never enough. That’s why internships are so critical – a lot of the jobs you’d be paying people a little bit of money for like answering the phones or making copies get done for free because they simply can’t afford to do it any other way.

    The way the system works now sucks, but it’s not politically feasible to change it because of how people view what Congress does. As a result, you have the entire legislative branch susceptible to graft and corruption because they simply aren’t being paid what they’re worth or at a level commensurate with their responsibilities.

    If the old adage you get what you pay for is true, no one has any reason to crap on Congress because we are paying very little for what we get, comparatively.

  • RichmondDem says:


    It was an old joke I heard. I wasn’t being serious. I know it’s hard to tell tone in text sometimes.

  • NovaConservative says:

    Okay, fair enough–didn’t mean to single you out. More frustration with the general tenor of public opinion on this matter. Moderate R sums it up pretty well.

  • Alter of Freedom says:

    Moderate R- so the bailout is the equivalent of your view of Congress. Alot of spending with very little in return for the people who paid for it?

  • Moderate R says:

    Alter – ask me again in a year and we’ll see if the spending was worth it. As for Congress, we’re getting what we pay for.

Leave Comment