Bad time for congressional pay raises

Capitol Hill at sunrise

TEXT OF STORY

Scott Jagow: Congress has yet to sign off on most appropriations bills to fund federal agencies, and that includes the funding bill that gives lawmakers raises. Even though it hasn't passed yet, the pay hikes kick in automatically next month. Danielle Karson reports.


Danielle Karson: Every January, like clockwork, lawmakers get their automatic pay raises. Next month, their incomes will go up 2.8 percent, to $174,000.

For Steve Ellis with Taxpayers for Common Sense, there's something wrong with this picture.

Steve Ellis: If you look across the country, you have Americans who are losing their jobs, aren't getting any holiday bonuses; and then you have Congress getting a pay raise. It really flies in the face of shared sacrifice.

Many members campaigned this year to eliminate automatic pay raises. It may have made for good politics. But Utah Democrat Jim Matheson has been the lone voice in the House protesting the pay hikes, and is giving the extra cash to charitable groups.

Jim Matheson: There's no question that our current circumstances really call into question if this is the time for Congress to be raising its own pay. I use that term loosely, 'cause Congress didn't really do anything to raise its own pay -- it just kinda happens.

Taxpayer advocate Steve Ellis says it's up to constituents to let their representatives know the automatic raises are not OK -- especially now.

In Washington, I'm Danielle Karson for Marketplace.

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