WASHINGTON – The Senate passed legislation awarding federal judges their annual cost-of-living pay raise immediately rather than keeping their pay frozen along with that of lawmakers.
U.S. lawmakers last month voted to deny themselves their annual cost-of-living pay raise — though only through Feb. 15 — keeping a promise made by Democrats in the campaign to freeze Congress' pay until raising the $5.15 per hour minimum wage.
That move also had the effect of freezing the pay of federal judges, slated to receive a 1.7 percent hike on Jan. 1. The Senate bill, which passed Monday by unanimous voice vote, lifts the COLA freeze for judges.
For Chief Justice John Roberts, who currently makes $212,100 per year, the bill would make up for about $400 in lost pay — the total of his scheduled raise between Jan. 1 and Feb. 15. He's slated to start receiving the rest of his approximately $3,600 pay hike on Feb. 16. The associate justices currently make $203,000 per year, while district judges make $165,200, the same amount as members of Congress.
The controversy is separate from Roberts' crusade for higher pay for federal judges, who are rapidly falling behind contemporaries such as law school deans and senior professors.
Aides to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., were not available for comment about the measure's prospects in the House.