Washington (CNN) - The Senate on Thursday passed legislation to scrap its $1600 cost-of-living pay raise for 2011. Lawmakers automatically receive the pay hike unless they vote each year to stop it.
The bill was introduced by Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin, who has adamantly protested the the annual pay raise since his election in 1992. Legislators did not take a pay raise in 2010 either - a suspension of the pay raise was included in the omnibus appropriations bill.
"Not many Americans have the power to give themselves a raise whenever they want, no matter how they are performing," Feingold said in a press release. "Yet Congress has set up a system whereby every year members automatically get a pay increase without having to lift a finger. I refuse to be a part of that system, and I will continue to work to permanently end it."
"But in the meantime, Congress should at least give up its raise for next year. With so many Americans looking for jobs, and trying to figure out how to pay their bills, now is no time to give ourselves a taxpayer-funded pay raise."
Read the one-page bill here [pdf]
In keeping with a campaign promise from his first run for senator in 1992, Feingold has never taken an annual pay raise. According to his office, "Feingold returns pay above the level he received after he was last elected and returns it to the U.S. Treasury."
The legislation now must pass the House of Represenatives.