Tags: Alcee Hastings | congress | pay raise | salary

Rep. Hastings Says Pay Raises Needed to Diversify Congress

Image: Rep. Hastings Says Pay Raises Needed to Diversify Congress
Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 20 May 2015 12:08 PM

Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings of Florida argued for congressional pay raises at this week’s House Rules Committee meeting, but other than a show of support from House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, Hastings is alone in advocating on behalf of the "politically toxic issue," Roll Call reports.

"We have more than 50 members, probably as many as 75 or more, living in their offices," Hastings told the publication. "They’re not there because of any other reason than they can’t afford it. Now if people want us in sackcloths and ashes, then they’re going to get what they rightly deserve as representation."

Hastings argues that if Congress doesn’t get a bump in pay, only rich people will run for office.

"Congress is left afraid to speak up for itself," he said. "Well, I’m not."

CNN reports that members of Congress receive an annual salary of $174,000 and haven't had a pay raise since 2009. Since then automatic cost-of-living adjustments have been frozen. The average staff assistant on Capitol Hill earns roughly $35,000 per year.

The pay issue was raised as part of discussions on the upcoming annual spending bill that allocates the budget for the legislative branch. That bill contains a provision to block an automatic pay hike, according to Roll Call.

Rep. Matt Salmon, an Arizona Republican who began sleeping in his House office upon his 2013 return to Congress, says lawmakers don’t deserve a pay hike when the average American is suffering.

"With all the people out there that are hurting that haven’t seen their income go up in a decade, it’s a pretty darn hard argument," he told Roll Call. "I certainly wouldn’t expect anybody to be sympathetic. I’m not sympathetic to it myself."

If money is the motivating factor for people to go into politics, "then you’re in the wrong place," he added.

Hoyer stipulated that he favors a cost-of-living adjustment, not a pay raise.

"To continue [the pay freeze] simply will dictate the only people who can serve are the rich," he said. "I don’t think that’s what the founding fathers had in mind and frankly I don’t see a cost-of-living adjustment as a raise, but staying even."

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Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings of Florida argued for congressional pay raises at this week's House Rules Committee meeting, but other than a show of support from House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, Hastings is alone in the issue, Roll Call reports.
Alcee Hastings, congress, pay raise, salary
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2015-08-20
Wednesday, 20 May 2015 12:08 PM
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