The House has been debating whether to provide its members with a pay increase for the coming year. It has been over a decade since Congress has seen a pay increase. This past week Steny Hoyer, who is the House Majority Leader, made the push for an increase to be approved. With his support of the increase, he is now facing criticism from those that do not agree with the decision.
Hoyer is a leading Democrat and is under pressure from others in his party to not support the motion to bump pay this coming year. Some Democrats believe that they will lose their seats in the next election if a pay increase is approved.
Support for a pay increase within the Democratic Party is strong. Many of them believe that the cost of living in Washington has outpaced salaries. And now the current salary level is not enough to cover all their personal expenses.
Hoyer is fighting for the increase against Republicans and Democrats that is now gaining national attention. A simple cost-of-living increase should not be this big of a deal. It stands to reason that American citizens want to take care of their elected officials. Lawmakers that have to worry about financial matters will have a hard time devoting their full attention to the job they were elected to do.
In some meetings that Hoyer has had with close allies, he is finding himself on the defensive as they are pledging to vote against it. There are other Democrats that are actually siding with Hoyer as he tries to gain the votes needed to pass the bill.
Hakeem Jeffries, who serves as the Democratic Caucus chair has privately given his support to Hoyer regarding the pay increase.
The pay increase idea is just one of many issues that are fracturing the Democratic Party. Many younger Democrats are concerned about the pay that their staff is receiving. Staff pay is considerably lower than that of a Representatives pay.
Cedric Richmond from Louisiana has stated, “I do not pay attention to the front-liners. Most of them are scared of their shadows. At some point, you have to do what’s best for the institution. I absolutely think there’s a majority of members who are for this idea.”
Democratic leaders have pulled a spending bill that had the pay increase issue up for a vote. Hoyer and his supporters see the increase as more of a standard of living wage increase and nothing more. Salaries are struggling to keep pace with the cost of living each year. Not receiving anything is really a cut in pay because of inflation.
The amount of increase to pay that is being proposed is $4,500. Many of the Republicans are against the increase. Hoyer has stated, “Unlike some members, I’m pretty out front. I think [a cost-of-living] adjustment is appropriate. Members have now seen 10 years of a freeze. We don’t want to have only rich people here.”
Some of his opposition comes from other Democrats accusing him of speaking with Republicans about the increase and not fellow Democrats. Dan Kildee from Michigan has stated “I don’t think it was wise at this moment, that’s for sure. When working Americans are not seeing their wages go up, I can’t imagine how we do this.”
Ben McAdams from Utah has voiced, “A lot of us think that it’s the wrong move and the wrong time. I think people do expect to work together but let’s work to solve health care and the rising cost of prescription drugs before we work together to give ourselves a raise.” McAdams has also introduced an amendment that would keep the pay increase from being voted on.
The pay increase idea is divisive among the Democratic Party. Many of the younger members are in favor of the idea. Some Democrats are right in that an increase would be something they would have to overcome when elections come around next year. This could be the very issue that would give control of the House, the Senate, and the Oval Office to the Republicans in 2020.