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End Automatic Pay Raises for Congress

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Do you work in a job where you get an automatic pay raise every year? In this economy, a lot of Louisianians I talk to say they feel lucky to have a good paying job, and getting a raise every year would be lagniappe. That’s because most folks across Louisiana can’t count on getting a raise every year.

In fact, too many folks across the country have lost their jobs or have been forced to accept pay freezes or lower paying jobs. All the while, Congress continues to automatically receive annual pay raises. That’s absurd and insulting. What’s even more ridiculous is that this is done behind closed doors; the pay raises are automatic, so Congress doesn’t even have to publicly vote on it.

This makes no sense, and it’s clear that it needs to be reformed. We can start by flatly requiring any member of Congress who wants a raise each year to publicly ask for, defend it, and explain it to their constituents by putting it to a public vote.

Since 2009, I’ve been introducing legislation to end automatic annual pay raises for members of Congress and require that any increase must be publicly voted on. This would increase transparency and accountability in Congress. Folks across the country deserve to know when their representatives in Congress give themselves a raise.

Since then we’ve been doing temporary blocks for pay raises – which is obviously a great start – but that is a backwards way to go about it. If Congress wants a raise, they should vote on a raise. We should not have to consider legislation just to block the raise, because an automatic raise shouldn’t exist to start with. That’s why I’ll keep pushing my legislation to completely end the process.

As you could probably guess, this has been an uphill battle. The Senate, led by Harry Reid (D-Las Vegas), isn’t exactly clearing its calendar to vote to end its own automatic pay raises. Even though this legislation is unpopular with my colleagues in Washington, I’m going to keep pushing for it. If Americans across the country can’t count on an automatic pay raise each year, their representatives in Congress shouldn’t either.

David Vitter is a U.S. Senator for the state of Louisiana

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