Rep. Ben McAdams, other Democrats, help get congressional pay raise reconsidered

Rep. Ben McAdams, other Democrats, help get congressional pay raise reconsidered

(Scott G Winterton, KSL, File)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's only Democrat in Congress, Rep. Ben McAdams, joined others in his party in a successful effort to get House leadership to rethink a congressional pay raise.

"I'm glad they listened. I think it's a bad idea," McAdams said. "Those of us who are new to Congress, I think, have a pretty good sense for what's on the minds of the American people."

He said what Americans want is for Congress "to work together, but not to raise our own salary. They want us to address the rising cost of health care and prescription drugs and invest in our transportation infrastructure."

Restoring an automatic cost of living salary increase for members of Congress was supported by leaders of both parties in the Democrat-controlled House, McAdams said.

He had been trying to amend a funding bill to stop the increase, which would have boosted the annual $174,000 salary for a member of Congress by $4,500 starting in January.

The country is already "on the unbelievable path of digging a nearly $1 trillion budget hole by the end of September," he said, calling it "immoral to keep adding to that financial burden to our children and grandchildren."

The 4th Congressional District representative, who unseated two-term former Republican Rep. Mia Love last year, was one of at least 15 mostly freshmen in competitive House districts pushing for a pay freeze, Politico reported.

A spokeswoman for House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told the Washington Post that consideration of the legislative branch appropriations bill was being delayed "while we consider the cost of living adjustment."

The announcement came after Democratic House leaders apparently made the decision in a closed-door meeting Monday, where the bill was "hotly debated," according to the Post.

The most vocal opponents of the pay raise are "scores of Democratic freshman," the newspaper said. Several also were proposing floor amendments to halt what would have been the first salary increase for members of Congress in a decade.

McAdams' proposed amendment states that no cost of living adjustment would be made in the next fiscal year. He said he hopes the pay hike "is dead and it doesn't come back.

"I don't think it's something that Congress should take up this year. Especially in my experience, compensation is always linked to job performance. And Congress as a whole hasn't earned a pay increase."

Not all the new Democratic members of the House were happy with putting off the decision.

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leader of the party's progressive wing, tweeted her disapproval.

"Yep. Voting against cost of living increases for members of Congress may sound nice, but doing so only increases pressure on them to keep dark money loopholes open. This makes campaign finance reform *harder.* ALL workers deserve cost of living increases, incl min wage workers," she said in a tweet Tuesday.

She said in another tweet that stopping the pay increase would "punish members who rely on a straight salary, and reward those who rely on money loopholes and other forms of self-dealing."

McAdams reacted to her comments by saying he was already earning enough as a member of Congress.

"Look, I can more than make ends meet on $174,000. I think it's a generous salary, especially with many of my constituents who make ends meet on far less than that," he said.

"I really don't feel sympathy for people who are saying they can't survive off $174,000 a year."

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