Washington – Alaska's senators are joining a growing group of lawmakers urging President Obama to rescind a recent executive order granting pay increases to Congress and other federal officials, saying the move doesn't jibe with the country's debt crisis.
Sen. Mark Begich said on his Facebook page that if the American people don't get an automatic pay raise then neither should members of Congress. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said Monday she was "stunned" when she heard lawmakers would be getting a bump in pay.
"We haven't been able to produce a budget in three years," she said. "The last thing this Congress needs right now is a pay increase."
Obama signed an executive order last week that will lift a ban on pay freezes for federal employees.
Rank-and-file members of Congress would all see a $900 bump next year -- up from $174,000. Congressional leaders will receive a slightly higher raise, with the House speaker receiving a $1,100 salary increase to $224,600. The top two Senate leaders will see pay rise $1,000, to $194,400.
Vice President Biden, meanwhile, will see his pay increase from $225,521 last year to $231,900 after his raise goes into effect March 27, 2013.
But the pat on the back came as a surprise to some, given the lack of progress all year toward a deal to head off the looming fiscal crisis -- which includes $600 billion in tax hikes and spending cuts. Even if that is resolved, Washington has still done relatively little to address the more than $16 trillion debt.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., introduced legislation Monday that would rescind the pay raises.
“I am calling on my colleagues in the House and Senate to rescind President Obama’s executive order that gives members of Congress a pay raise," she said in a statement. "This executive order was not requested by Congress and we should reject it. We have a spending problem in our country and we should be looking for areas to cut spending. At a time when families across the country are cutting back we should not increase government spending and add to the debt burden by giving members of Congress a pay raise. We need to begin with ourselves and I urge my colleagues to join me in this effort.”
Republican Sen. Rob Portman said now is not the time for bigger salaries in Washington -- at least not until the country can deal aggressively with its debt and deficit problems.
"At a time when our country is facing record debt and trillion-dollar deficits, the last thing Washington should do is reward itself with a pay increase," the Ohio senator said. "I am calling on President Obama to withdraw his recent executive order raising federal salaries -- including for members of Congress. Until a long-term deficit reduction agreement is reached, we should not consider increasing the pay for Congress."
Obama also OK'd raises for circuit and district court judges.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.