WASHINGTON, D.C. – $174,000 – that’s how much the average lawmaker takes home annually for their work in Congress. But after a decade of frozen pay, some lawmakers say it’s time for a raise.
“That’s not right,” said Iowa Democrat Cindy Axne.
Rep. Axne is one of two Democrats and three Republicans pushing bills to block the $4,500 pay bump. She says Congress priorities are out of wack.
“When we’re seeing things like education expenses being gutted, when we’re seeing research for health issues being gutted, those things are unacceptable,” she said.
Her plan would also ban lawmakers from taking first class flights and make it illegal for them to lobby jobs once they leave office.
“Anytime you’re looking at something for the greater good of this country, we should all want to get on board,” Rep. Axne said.
But she’s facing some pushing back. Republican and Democrat leaders in the House support the pay increase.
Supporters say the pay bump is designed to compensate for inflation and the high cost of living in their home state and D.C.
“The average American makes $60,000 a year. I don’t think they’re going to get much sympathy from the American people,” said Romina Boccia with the Heritage Foundation.
Boccia says the increase will be bad politics in an election year.
“Many Americans are frustrated with the lack of action from Congress,” she said.
Instead, the conservative group is backing a plan that would block pay entirely for lawmakers until they pass a full budget.
A vote on the pay increase is expected in the House later this week.