Even though House Republicans are going to be in session for only 126 days in 2013, they are still demanding their full $174,000 salary.
Despite this being an off off year election, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has announced that the House will only be in session for 126 days in 2013. The schedule is continuation of the two weeks off one week on schedule that the Republicans implemented when they gained the majority after the 2010 election. The Senate works the opposite schedule. The Senate schedule traditionally has been three weeks on and one week off per month. When the two schedules are examined side by side, it is easy to see why it takes so long to get anything done in Washington. The House has turned their schedule into an obstruction tactic. It is hard to make legislative progress when one body is MIA for two thirds of the year.
During the fight over the fiscal cliff House Republicans will talk how it is imperative that the nation slashes spending without raising tax, but the one thing they won’t mention is how they are adding to deficit by insisting on being paid when they aren’t working.
Members of the House are set to be paid $1,380.95 for each day when they are in session in 2013. If they were serious about reducing the deficit, one of the first things that they should do is prorate their pay so that their yearly compensation is based on only the days that they spent in session.
The House salary prorated over 365 days is $476.71. If we pay House members for only the days that they will be in full legislative session in 2013 ($476.71 X 126), their annual salary would drop to $60,065.46. This would net an average savings to the taxpayers of $113,954.13 per member. The total savings on House salaries per year would be over $49.5 million a year. Do this for ten years, and you will shave nearly half a billion dollars off the deficit.
Majority Leader Eric Cantor came prepared with an excuse for why Republicans have decided to pay themselves so much for so few days work. Cantor said, “Time spent in the district between Monday and Friday is essential for meeting with small businesses, employees, seniors, veterans and other local communities during working hours. We will continue to accommodate Members with longer distances to travel home and provide at least one constituent work week each month, with the exception of June.”
The problem is that this is exactly what House Republicans especially aren’t doing with their time. That’s a nice cover, but it is just not true. These members aren’t back home dealing with their constituents needs. Most of their time is spent raising money for their next campaign. Members spend 30%-70% of their time fundraising.
It is very possible that a congressperson will spend one third of their time in session, and the rest of their time fundraising. (The time spent fundraising varies based on the competitiveness of the district.)
Taxpayers are paying House members to go out and beg for dollars from special interests.
If House Republicans are serious about cutting the deficit, they should do their part by offering to be paid only for the days when they are in session.
Let’s see how much House Republicans care about the middle class when they are earning middle class wages.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association