U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green, is absolutely right when he says members of Congress don’t deserve a pay raise — let alone an automatic one every year.
Latta introduced the “No Vote, No Raise Act” in January. It has yet to be considered by the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
But if eventually approved, it would block the automatic annual congressional pay raise and maintain a nearly decade-long freeze on salary levels for members of Congress.
Latta isn’t breaking new ground here. He has introduced similar legislation before as Republicans have voted to freeze pay the last eight years in a row. There hasn’t been a wage adjustment since 2009.
Rank and file congressmen in both the House and Senate currently make about $174,000 a year and can earn more for certain leadership positions.
Under the Government Ethics Reform Act of 1989, members of Congress receive an annual adjustment in pay. Because it is not tied to appropriations, it requires no vote and every year, a pay increase goes into effect unless Congress affirmatively votes to stop it.
During the eight years Republicans were in charge in the House, they voted to freeze their own pay.
Latta’s “No Vote, No Raise Act” would require any salary adjustments to be voted on by Congress, not simply added automatically.
Democrats hold the majority in the House now, but will have to think twice about accepting an automatic pay raise just ahead of the 2020 elections.
Latta makes a strong argument for another freeze.
“With little to no serious legislative work being done on the House floor, Democrats should not be helping Congress get a raise,” Latta said last week. “While I don’t think the raise should happen, it certainly shouldn’t be happening quietly and without a vote.”
We agree. Pay raises weren’t taken when Republicans controlled the House in recent years, and there’s no valid case the Democrats can make for more pay since they gained the House majority this year.
Certainly, congressmen should have to earn a pay increase and also be accountable to the American people with a vote.
It seems like a bad time to be voting yourself a pay raise. A better response would be for members of both parties to go along with another wage freeze — then start working together to get something done. Then, maybe next year, perhaps a better argument could be made about a raise.