[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/22/art.feingold.1220.gi.jpg caption ="The Senate passed legislation Thursday introduced by Sen. Russ Feingold that would block lawmakers from receiving an automatic annual pay raise."]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.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/22/art.bernanke2.gi.jpg caption="A second term for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke became more uncertain on Friday."]Washington (CNN) - A second term for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke became more uncertain Friday as two leading liberal senators announced they would vote no, and many other Senate Democrats said they were undecided.
Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin, and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, both issued statements announcing their opposition to Bernanke.
"Under the watch of Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve permitted grossly irresponsible financial activities that led to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Under Chairman Bernanke's watch predatory mortgage lending flourished, and 'too big to fail' financial giants were permitted to engage in activities that put our nation's economy at risk," said Feingold.
Sen. Boxer said she's voting no because Bernanke "played a lead role in crafting the Bush administration's economic policies, which led to the current economic crisis."
"Our next Federal Reserve Chairman must represent a clean break from the failed policies of the past," she said.
(CNN) - MoveOn – which has spent millions this fall on campaigns pressing conservative Democrats to support health care reform – is now calling on members to fight the bill currently being considered by the Senate.
The group has launched a petition drive to push liberal lawmakers like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, and Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold to block the bill in its current form unless significant changes are made.
Earlier this week, Sanders indicated he was not sure he could back the bill as it now stands.
"(T)here's enormous pressure from all sides to pass a bill quickly, no matter how weak it is," MoveOn organizers said in a message sent to members Friday. "Let's show Bernie and other progressives that we're counting on them to block this version of the bill–and we'll get their backs if they do."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Congressional hearings called by Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold - one of the leading Democratic critics of executive branch "czars" who do not require Senate confirmation - drew a dismissive shrug from the White House Tuesday.
"I would assume that Congress and Senator Feingold have more weighty topics to grapple with than - than something like this," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters. The White House did not send a witness to Tuesday's hearing.
The administration's absence drew criticism from Feingold, whose hearing examined the history and legality of the positions.
"I called this hearing today because I think this is a serious issue that deserves serious study," Feingold, chairman of the Senate Judiciary constitution subcommittee, said in his opening statement.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/25/art.feingold.gi.jpg caption="Sen. Russ Feingold is sponsoring an amendment to ban governors from appointing senators."]
(CNN) – In the wake of a series of controversies surrounding Senate appointments, several lawmakers are trying to put an end to the practice of allowing governors to hand-pick senators to fill vacant seats.
The Senate and House Judiciary Committees will hold a joint hearing on March 11 on a proposed constitutional amendment to make states hold special elections to fill Senate vacancies, instead of the tradition of allowing governors to choose their successors. Democrats Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and Rep. John Conyers of Michigan will preside over the hearing.
The bipartisan bill doesn’t have a lot of support so far, with only two cosponsors in the Senate and six in the House. Feingold first proposed the amendment at the end of January.
The issue over how to fill Senate vacancies has gotten more attention this year, after the November 4 election and subsequent administration appointments left four open seats. Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was impeached over allegations that he auctioned off President Obama’s former Senate seat and New York Gov. David Paterson faced intense criticism over the way he handled filling Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s vacant spot.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/25/art.feingold.gi.jpg caption="Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold says he plans to introduce an amendment banning governors from appointing senators."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - First it was the uproar over the appointment by Illinois Gov. Roy Blagojevich of former state attorney general Roland Burris to fill President Barack Obama's remaining term in the Senate.
Then, New York Gov. David Paterson appointed Democratic Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand to the Senate seat now vacated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton - creating a political circus over why Caroline Kennedy was given the cold shoulder.
Now, Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin, says, enough is enough.
On Sunday, Feingold, said he plans to introduce an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to end appointments to the Senate by governors. Feingold, who is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, will advocate a special election instead.
“The controversies surrounding some of the recent gubernatorial appointments to vacant Senate seats make it painfully clear that such appointments are an anachronism that must end," he said in a press release.