Congressman reintroduces legislation to cut Members’ salaries if spending goes up

Virginia Republican Congressman Randy Forbes announced in a news release that he has reintroduced the Congressional Accountability Pay (CAP) Act, also known as H.R. 284, a piece of legislation that would tie the salaries of Members of Congress to federal spending by a specified percentage.

The bill would work like this: if federal spending increases by 10 percent then the salaries of Congressmen would be slashed by 10 percent. The purpose of the legislation would be to make Congress accountable and to encourage Republicans, Democrats and Independents to implement budget cuts.

“Congress has a tremendous amount of work to do to return America to a firm fiscal footing. The CAP Act is designed to insert personal accountability of Members of Congress into the budget process to move us in the right direction,” stated the Virginia Representative, an advocate of a balanced budget amendment. “I believe in the simple truth that we should not spend what we do not have, and we must make it a priority to put our nation back on a path of fiscal prosperity. As public servants, we have a lot of work to do to bring down our national debt and reduce deficit spending.”

Forbes’s bill was introduced twice before during the 111th and 112th sessions of Congress. He is hoping to garner the support from both sides of the aisle on this issue.

It was also reported that Florida Republican Congressman Richard Nugent reintroduced his own legislation called “Congress is Not a Career Act” that would permit lawmakers to opt out of receiving a pension and to reject the Thrift Savings Plan contributions.

On Wednesday, Forbes spoke with CNN’s Soledad O’Brien about his movement, who said congressional members “need to have some skin in the game. If you can’t control spending and it goes up 10 percent, your salary goes down 10 percent.”

The CNN host responded that Forbes makes a lot money, according to a Forbes magazine article.

“Forbes [magazine] says you make a lot of money. Forbes says you are a wealthy man. That 10% of your salary in Congress… that is not going to be a dent in your personal wealth,” said O’Brien.  “And there are a lot of Congress people who make way more than you…. Is it really going to hurt them?”

Forbes denied the accuracy of the article and said the publication’s numbers were “very high” because it slanted toward the high end of a wide range of people’s assets. “I wish it were true, Soledad.”

Economic Collapse News reported in November that Roll Call published its annual survey of the wealthiest members of Congress. The top three most affluent leaders were Texas Republican Congressman Michael McCaul ($294.21 million), California Republican Congressman Darrell Issa ($295.4 million) and Massachusetts Democratic Senator John Kerry ($232.9 million).

The current salary of members of the House and Senate is $174,000 per year (2013). Other members are paid a higher salary for taking certain positions. For instance, a Speaker of the House earns $223,500, while a Senate Minority Party leader makes $193,400 per year. They also receive retirement and health benefits, personal spending accounts, travel plans and security details.

In the Fiscal Year 2010, maintaining the lifestyles of Members of Congress cost the taxpayers $4.66 billion, not including benefits.

Although serving as a lawmaker is viewed as being quite lucrative, there are a couple of states across the country where legislators do not earn an annual salary. In the state of New Mexico, for example, state representatives and senators are only given a $154 voucher each day tied to the federal rate and the Constitution.

Members of the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention served in positions without pay.

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