Top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell says the GOP-controlled chamber won’t go along with a bipartisan plan by House leaders to have lawmakers receive their first cost-of-living pay increase in a decade.
McConnell said in a statement Thursday that “we’re not doing a COLA adjustment in the Senate,” a position that likely kills the $4,500 pay raise. Lawmakers are supposed to get an automatic inflationary increase each year but it has been blocked since 2009.
House GOP leaders have expressed openness to the pay raise, despite the outright opposition from their Senate counterparts, according to The Hill.
“I do not want Congress at the end of the day to only be a place that millionaires serve. This should be a body of the people and I think it’s something that should be looked at,”, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said at a press conference last week.
House leaders in both parties, led by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., have been trying to orchestrate a maneuver to bless the cost-of-living increase. Rank and file lawmakers make $174,000 per year, a healthy wage, but rising housing and college costs are making it more difficult for members who aren’t well off to remain in Congress.
Hoyer — who has long advocated for boosting member pay in order to attract new candidates to run for office — says the House is currently set to take up the pay boost next week.
“There’s no language blocking it,” Hoyer said of the bill coming to the floor as soon as next week, reported by Politico.
Asked about McConnell’s opposition, Hoyer responded by pulling out a copy of a recent article that quoted McCarthy saying he did not want Congress “to be a place where only millionaires serve.”
McConnell has supported the annual COLA in the past. But the practice of blocking the pay increase became regimented after the tea party-fueled 2010 GOP takeover of the House. The Kentucky Republican is up for re-election next year.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is skeptical of the idea. She said it’s not even worth talking about going forward with the pay raise unless the effort is bipartisan. By that standard, McConnell’s opposition should be sufficient to kill the COLA.
The annual COLA dates to a 1989 reform law in which lawmakers traded pay increases for giving up paid speeches called honoraria that attracted great criticism.
Including the report of The Associated Press.