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Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) took aim at an effort by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and other lawmakers to allow a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for members of Congress for the first time in a decade, saying that the House doesn’t deserve a “merit bonus” for their “inactivity.”
Lankford is part of Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) Republican majority in the Senate, which has helped block any legislative action whatsoever on dozens of important bills that lawmakers in the House have passed, and turned the chamber into what Senate Democrats have taken to calling a “legislative graveyard.” But he said on Tuesday that the House does not deserve more pay because they have not enacted enough legislation.
Most members of the House of Representatives earn $174,000 each year — a figure that has been unchanged since 2009. Since the 27th Amendment prevents Congress from raising its own salary during its term, lawmakers adopted a law in 1989 automatically adjusting member’s salaries to keep up with the cost of living annually.
But with low public approval ratings, members often vote to waive that pay raise — a move that may be politically wise, but which has helped keep those who are not independently wealthy out of Congress. Conservative estimates find that the average net worth of a member of Congress is over $1 million.
Ocasio-Cortez is the rare member of Congress who has been very public about the financial challenges this job has presented for her. A former service industry worker who left her job to run for Congress and had no income between her November 2018 victory and her January 2019 inauguration, she found it virtually impossible to even get an apartment in Washington, D.C.
ICYMI: I joined @Varneyco on @FoxBusiness on the USMCA trade agreement and pay raises for Congress—Let’s get back to actually being productive. Productivity deserves a response not inactivity. pic.twitter.com/SJ3488nzhM
— Sen. James Lankford (@SenatorLankford) June 11, 2019
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