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.
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.