Feingold-Reid-Durbin Bill to End Automatic Congressional Pay Raises Passes the Senate

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – A bill to discontinue the practice of automatic pay raises for Members of Congress was unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate today. The bill was written by U.S. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) and cosponsored by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL).


The bill would permanently end the automatic cost of living adjustment, and instead require Members of Congress to vote for or against all future salary adjustments.


The Constitution gives the power to Congress to determine its own pay while holding those lawmakers accountable to constituents every few years. According to the Congressional Research Service, Congress has raised its own pay in stand-alone legislation more than two dozen times. But in 1989, a change in law made it possible for members of Congress to receive automatic annual pay increases unless Congress votes to skip them.


Congress voted to forgo the annual raise in 2007 and acted earlier this month to deny themselves a pay raise for next year as well. Members of Congress earn annual salaries of $174,000.


“The Constitution gives Senators and Congressmen the authority to raise their own pay, something that most of our constituents cannot do. For nearly twenty years, cost of living raises were automatic unless Congress voted to forgo them,” said Durbin. “I believe that from time to time, even Members of Congress deserve a raise, but we ought to take that step openly, subject to open debate, amendments, and a vote on the record. It should not be automatic. It should not be done outside the glare of public scrutiny. Today’s action by the Senate was the right thing to do.”