Washington (CNN) - With midterm elections on the horizon and the nation's unemployment rate at 9.7 percent, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to block pay raises for members of Congress for the next fiscal year. The vote was 402-15.
Read the breakdown of the vote on the House website
The House action follows a similar move by the Senate last week.
Rules approved by Congress in 1989 provide for an automatic yearly cost of living adjustment, also known as a "COLA," in order to avoid the awkward situation of lawmakers voting to approve their own raises each year.
The current base salary for rank and file House members is $174,000 a year, with leaders earning more. Lawmakers were scheduled to receive a 0.9 percent raise in fiscal year 2011, adding $1600 to the current base salary, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Reps. Harry Mitchell, D-Arizona, and Jim Matheson, D-Utah, co-sponsored the House legislation cancelling the House's annual pay increase for fiscal year 2011.
"With unemployment high and so many families under stress," Mitchell said on the House floor, "it would simply be unconscionable for Congress to raise its own pay, but that is precisely what will happen in fiscal year 2011 unless Congress takes action to stop it. This bill is simply the right thing to do."
Separately, Matheson is pressing for a bill that would block automatic annual increases and require that Congress vote every year on any pay hikes.
Updated: 5:34 p.m.
Actually it looks to me like congress should be giving money back to the taxpayers since they refuse to work for us in our best interest and since they refuse to hear anything we say. Just remember Seniors they refused to give you a cost of living raise this year but gave themselves one – 2011 too little too late!
Is E. B. Johnson one and the same as the hank johnson – Guam will tilt fame?
Look at this. Look at what they make you give.
In the grand scheme of things, who cares. Its just political posturing. Its just a COLA raise. Ever look at local politicians and how much they load their pockets up?
The Wall Street lobbyist will pick up the tab as expected.
1/cut their pay 20%.
2/cut their expenses by 100%.
3/no government paid trips without the president's specific signature with copies posted at whithouse.gov.
4/if they don't like it quit and no nenefits for anyone with less than 25 years service. if you have 24 and quit then look for a job.
The 15 who voted against this were all democrats – wonder whether they figure they don't have to deal with the same belt tightening and living on a reduced budget that everyone else does? Or maybe they just figure rules are for everyone else but them?
"I think that raises for congress should be voted on by the public along with the President every 4 years."
Make it annual–and make it possible for the "raise" to be negative.
Hmmmm. Why don't other people get a COLA?
Also, why should the COLA only increase pay. Why not decrease when the economy tanks?
It is amazing how Congress will debate about what the people should get, but they have NO PROBLEM finding reasons to give themselves the best pay and benefits around.
They debate minimum wage, but give themselves a COLA.
They debate healthcare, but they have a great govt ran program.
They debate about SS and retirement accounts, but give themselves a FULL retirement by default.
I'd rather they kept they pay raise but voted to strip themselves of their luxurious health care package. Not going to happen, of course.
Congress should never receive any new compensation unless the rate of unemployment in the country is five percent or lower. And, if unemployment is above five percent, the Congress should get a ten percent wage cut each year until the five percent level is reached.
I do not see the usual liberal suspects posting on this story. Wonder why? Maybe they are ashamed! Well, they have every right to be!
Its amazing that Congress gets a COLA (even though the voted not to take it), but retired military members havent received a COLA adjustment in those same 3 years......
Big deal. Most of them are millionaires.
For the amount of work they do– they should never get another raise.