WASHINGTON – Senators should do their part in reducing federal spending by turning down a pay raise, Sen. John Kyl (search) said Monday.
Under Kyl's amendment to a spending bill covering federal workers, senators would forgo the estimated 1.9 percent cost-of-living increase that will automatically go into effect unless the Senate votes to reject it.
The pay increase, also applicable to House members, would boost the salary for rank-and-file lawmakers by $3,100 to $165,200.
The $2 million in savings would take care of about three minutes of the year's deficit.
The House earlier approved a similar spending bill with only one lawmaker speaking out against the pay increase, but House conservatives have recently revived the issue in a package of proposals to cut federal spending in light of the mounting costs of rebuilding after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
"One way that we might encourage others to come forth with potential savings is to demonstrate that we ourselves are willing to forgo this COLA," said Kyl, R-Ariz. "It's a gesture that members of the Senate ought to make."
Republicans froze salaries for several years after gaining the majority in 1995, but in seven of the past eight years lawmakers have accepted cost-of-living increases, usually with little or no debate.
A vote on Kyl's amendment could take place later this week. Sen. Russ Feingold (search), D-Wis., who for years has tried without success to freeze lawmaker pay, is co-sponsoring the amendment.