Imagine it, especially in this economy: you get an annual pay raise unless you say 'no' to it. Pretty great idea, right?
Well, that's exactly the situation for members of Congress. Every year, unless they take action to stop it, every member gets a cost of living adjustment (COLA).
But in a recession, a COLA isn't exactly popular, so members recently voted down their raise for 2010. Notice -- it was just for this year.
Now, a bipartisan duo in the Senate hopes to permanently ax the automatic pay raise, but its fate is unclear. Similar efforts have failed in past years, but Sens. Russ Feingold, D-WI, and Chuck Grassley, R-IA, have announced they're going to try, anyway, to attach their measure as an amendment to financial regulatory reform legislation currently on the Senate floor. The measure would require a roll call vote to enact a pay raise.
“There should never be a pay raise for members of Congress without a yes-or-no vote by members of Congress. It’s a matter of accountability, and it’s completely out of touch for Congress to allow a situation where it gives itself an automatic pay raise,” Grassley said in a statement released by his office.
Sen. David Vitter, R-LA, tried this last year but lost, 52-45, when Democrats moved to kill his amendment. Thirty-five Republicans (including Grassley) and 10 Democrats (including Feingold) voted in favor of the measure. Click here to see how your senator voted.
It is unclear if Feingold-Grassley will get a vote during the financial reform debate.