Kevin McCarthy, gavel
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R) holding the speaker's gavel. Photo credit: Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy / Wikimedia

House Republicans think they deserve a raise for a job they don’t seem to want to do and that none of them is any good at.

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House Republicans, who want to cut costs just about everywhere in the federal government, think they are doing such a great job that they deserve a hefty raise.

That’s debatable, so let’s talk about it.

First of all, it’s important to note that, in theory, members of Congress receive an automatic cost of living adjustment each year. Therefore, if they do absolutely nothing, their pay goes up.

However, because that isn’t a great look, lawmakers have been adding language to the annual appropriations bills for more than a decade that blocks this automatic increase.

As a result, their pay has remained at the same level since then.

Until now. This time around, the Republican authors of the funding legislation for the legislative branch have left out that provision. In other words, they want to give themselves a big raise of about $8,000.

That would take the salary of most members of Congress to $182,000. At first glance, that’s a lot, and it certainly is compared to what average Americans are making.

However, upon a closer look, it’s not an outlandish level of compensation.

Lawmakers have to maintain a residence in their home districts, and they also have to have a place to stay in Washington, DC, which is one of the most expensive markets in the US.

So, even though they are also wined and dined, they don’t exactly lead extravagant lifestyles.

In fact, there are plenty of lawmakers who are living in their offices to save costs.

It’s also important to remember that the cost of living has gone up quite a bit since Congress last gave itself a raise.

Therefore, on balance, there really isn’t anything wrong with lawmakers getting a pay bump.

However, it seems very wrong that it is House Republicans proposing it.

There are two main reasons for that.

First of all, with very few exceptions, they want austerity just about everywhere else. In their case, it really does look bad that they want to give themselves a hefty raise while cutting programs for Americans in need.

But, perhaps more importantly, House Republicans don’t deserve a raise because they are not doing their jobs.

It would be one thing if they were legislating their little hearts out and trying to improve the lives of all Americans.

But they are doing nothing of that sort.

Instead, House Republicans are a bunch of performance artists who are wasting taxpayer money with ridiculous stunts and hearings that do nothing to make anybody’s life better.

They are the last ones who deserve — or should propose — a pay hike for lawmakers.

Just a couple of years ago, many of them wanted to overturn the will of the people, and so much of what House Republicans are doing these days seems more about destroying the government than improving it.

They should not get a raise until they are doing the job that they want to be compensated for.


  • Klaus Marre

    Klaus Marre is a writer, editor, former congressional reporter, and director of the WhoWhatWhy Mentor Apprentice Program. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre.

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