House Democrats are delaying consideration of a bill that was to give lawmakers and congressional staff higher salaries for the first time in exactly ten years after they faced criticism by the most vulnerable Democratic members.
The postponement was confirmed by the spokeswoman for House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Mariel Saez, who said that lawmakers opted to delay the bill as a result of discussions about the cost-of-living adjustment included in it, which are still underway.
CNN writes that an increase in representatives’ salaries is automatically set to kick in every year, but over the past decade, while the U.S. was still recovering from a recession, representatives decided to forgo it so as not to appear as giving themselves a raise at times like those.
In defending the adjustment, Hoyer said that it was difficult for representatives to maintain two residences – one in Washington and another in their home state – considering the extent to which housing costs have grown in past years. He added that staffers, as well, are not getting help for the rise in inflation.
“The salary we receive is a decent salary — there’s no doubt about that — but one problem is, under the law, our employees are capped,” he said. “So it’s not only having an effect on members of Congress, it’s depressing salary structures.”
He further argued that these are not difficult economic times for the country and thus there was no reason for members of Congress to “cinch their belt in.” The Maryland Democrat stressed that the cost-of-living adjustment was the right move, “not a pay rise.”
Last week, he met with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Republican Whip Steve Scalise to discuss preserving the adjustment, after which he voiced confidence that it could be done in a bipartisan way.
The adjustment would be part of a spending bill that covers the legislative branch.