Bennet to Pelosi: Members of Congress Should Not Get Pay Raises While Americans Struggle to Make Ends Meet

In Letter, Bennet Urges House to End Automatic Congressional Pay Raises

Washington, DC – Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator for Colorado, today urged the House of Representatives to pass a bill to end the current system of automatic, annual pay raises for members of Congress.  

In a letter to Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, Bennet joined 19 of his Senate colleagues in calling for a House vote on this legislation, which the Senate passed last year.  The bill would save $80 million over ten years while demonstrating that Congress is willing to tighten its own belt as it deals with record deficits.  

“Members of Congress should not get automatic pay raises while Coloradans and all Americans are struggling to make ends meet,” said Bennet.  “If members of Congress think they deserve a pay raise, they should have to justify it to the American people openly and on the record.”

Under the current system, members of Congress automatically receive pay raises each year unless they vote to block it.  The bill passed by the Senate would end this system of automatic pay raises and would force members of Congress to vote to raise their salaries.

The House and Senate already passed a freeze on Congressional pay for 2011, a measure that was cosponsored by Bennet.

As part of his Plan for Washington Reform, Bennet has proposed a freeze on congressional member pay and office budgets until there are four quarters of job growth.  Bennet’s Washington Reform Plan also includes sweeping changes that will limit Members of Congress and their staffs from becoming lobbyists; more transparency and accountability in the earmarking process; reform of the filibuster in a responsible and practical way; the elimination of secret holds; and new rules for campaign finance.

The full text of the letter is included below.

Dear Speaker Pelosi:

We urge you to bring up for a vote legislation passed by the Senate last year, S. 620, that would end the system of automatic, annual pay raises for members of Congress.  Passing this bill would save roughly $80 million over ten years, and help demonstrate that Congress is willing to tighten its own belt as we work to reduce record deficits.

We appreciate your efforts to prevent members of Congress from receiving a pay raise in 2011.  While that was an important step, it is time to end a system that guarantees members a pay hike unless they act to block it.  The burden should be on members of Congress who believe they deserve a raise to pass legislation, not on those who want to block one.  Few of our constituents have the power to raise their own pay -- Congress should exercise this power openly, on the record.

We thank you for considering our request and hope the House will soon take up S. 620.