Brindisi introduces bill to eliminate automatic pay raises for Congress
The House of Representatives won’t be getting a pay raise this year, after freshmen Democrats, including Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) protested to leadership. Now, Brindisi and a bipartisan group of representatives are taking it a step further. Brindisi has introduced a bill to permanently eliminate the mechanism that raises Congress’ pay each year.
According to a 1989 law, Congress’s pay is supposed to be adjusted every year along with private sector wage growth. However, that hasn’t been employed since 2009 because legislators have been writing in pay freezes each year for the last decade.
The bill sponsored by Brindisi and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), called the No Raise for Congress Act, would eliminate that rule entirely, making it so that legislators would have to introduce specific legislation each time they want to raise their pay.
"The people in upstate New York don't get automatic pay raises every year, nor should the people here in Congress,” Brindisi told WRVO Public Media Thursday.
Other freshmen, most notably Bronx Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez support a pay raise for members of Congress. They say an increase would mean less incentive for members to accept dark money outside their congressional salary. They also say it would make being a member of congress accessible to candidates who aren’t as wealthy to be able to pay for transportation and housing associated with the job.
"I think members of Congress know what the rules are, know what the law is, and if we want to have a discussion about dark money, we should have a discussion about how do we pass H.R. 1 through the Senate to get dark money out of politics,” Brindisi said.
H.R. 1 is a sweeping package of electoral and campaign finance reforms championed by House Democrats which they passed in March. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said his chamber won’t consider the legislation.
Brindisi said he’s not doing this for political popularity.
"No,” he said. “I'm doing exactly what the voters in my district are asking, they're asking me to solve problems here in Washington. I didn't campaign on going to Washington to raise my pay.
It’s unclear if the bill will be taken up by the full House of Representatives.
Vaughn Golden is a freelance reporter based in Washington, D.C.