Members of Congress would get a hefty pay raise, a long-delayed cost-of-living adjustment and a new housing allowance under legislation proposed by Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., who is retiring at the end of the current Congress.
Members of the House and Senate have not had a pay raise in more than a decade, in part because of the bad press that follows when lawmakers decide to give themselves more money. In past years, members who are on the way out have been much more comfortable raising the issue, and Perlmutter has three distinct proposals for raising salaries for members who will return next year.
However, even though he proposed the legislation, it appears unlikely that any of them will be considered this year. Democrats in the House and Senate are still working on several last-minute bills this year, including a defense policy bill, overall federal funding levels, possible tax extensions and more.
There has been no public talk about raising member pay, and one House leadership aide told Fox News Digital they were unaware of any effort to pass language on this issue in December.
One of Perlmutter’s bills would tie lawmaker pay to judicial salaries, an idea that could allow members to get raises any time judge salaries increase without having to endure the public criticism that has come with considering a pay bump.
Members of Congress have been paid $174,000 per year since 2009 – members of the leadership team can make nearly $20,000 more, and the speaker of the House’s salary is $223,500. In contrast, district judges made $223,400 this year, while circuit judges made $236,900 and members of the Supreme Court make $274,200.
Perlmutter’s bill was described broadly in the Federal Register over the weekend, but that description did not say exactly how judicial salaries would be linked to lawmakers. Perlmutter’s office did not return a request for comment about his legislation on Monday.
Another proposal from Perlmutter is aimed at restoring cost-of-living increases that have been waived under previous federal law, which is another way of creating a possible pay bump for members of Congress.
Congress sets its own pay, and decades ago, lawmakers approved a formula to create annual pay increases. However, since 2010, Congress has approved language to delay those increases.
A description of Perlmutter’s bill says it would “restore cost-of-living increases which were waived under previous laws.”
His third idea is to give members of the House a housing stipend. Lawmakers have argued on and off for the last several years that even on their higher-than-average salary, it’s too expensive to maintain a second home from which to work while in Washington, D.C., as well as their primary home back in their districts.
Five years ago, it was reported that dozens of Republicans and Democrats were sleeping on cots in their congressional offices in order to avoid the cost of renting an apartment.
In 2018, the New York Post reported that as many as 100 lawmakers were sleeping in their offices, including then-House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who is poised to be the next House speaker when Republicans take control of the House in January.