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Lawmaker Pushes Congress to Take 5 Percent Pay Cut

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Shown here is Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz. (AP Photo)

With approval ratings south of 20 percent, Congress isn't exactly acing its performance review -- and one congresswoman thinks it's time the American people started docking members' pay. 

Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., last week introduced a bill to cut pay for members of Congress by 5 percent. She said it hasn't made her the most popular person in the House of Representatives, but it's starting to gain bipartisan support. 

"I'll tell you, there is nothing like asking the people you work with to take a cut in pay and see the concern on their faces," Kirkpatrick told Fox News on Monday. 

The first-term congresswoman said she's hopeful, given the enormous fiscal challenges facing the country, the measure can pass. She said she's already started handing over 5 percent of her pay every month -- or $870 -- to help chisel away at the national debt. The monthly payment would have been less, but Kirkpatrick is, according to her office, paying extra to make up for the two months of 2010 she missed. 

"I'm putting my money where my mouth is. I'm leading by example and I hope my colleagues will join me," she said. 

The current salary for a member of Congress is $174,000. Leaders earn more.

Kirkpatrick's office estimates the proposal, which if passed would take effect at the beginning of 2011, would save $4.66 million a year. Though it's slight compared with the $12.5 trillion debt, Kirkpatrick, who supported the $1 trillion health insurance overhaul, argued that it's hard to justify pay increases. 

"The last time Congress took a cut in pay was 77 years ago. I don't know anyone who has not had a pay cut in 77 years," she said. 

So far, 21 lawmakers -- Democrats and Republicans -- have signed on as co-sponsors. It's being considered by two House committees.