Give Congressmen a Pay Raise? Pelosi: 'It's Not a Pay Raise, It's a COLA Increase'

By Susan Jones | June 13, 2019 | 11:48am EDT
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks at a news conference on June 13, 2019. (Photo: Screen capture)

( - At her weekly news conference, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was asked whether it's appropriate at this time for Congress to give itself a pay raise.

"It's not a pay raise, it's a COLA increase," Pelosi responded. "And whether that comes to be, I don't know. It would have to be a bipartisan initiative."

In this case, Congress could allow itself a COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) that would raise lawmakers' pay by $4,500 to $178,500, up from the current $174,000. (According to the Congressional Research Service, members of both the House and Senate are paid a salary of $174,000. The House and Senate majority and minority leaders are paid $193,400; and the speaker of the House is paid $223,500.)

Although the move has been put on hold for now, Pelosi said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) supports the pay raise as recognition "of the work that is done."

"Let me just say, listening to the members, because it's never a good time to bring up something like this -- there is a sentiment in the country that Congress should not be just...people who can afford to go to Congress," Pelosi said.

"It should be about everybody having the opportunity -- many more women, many more people of color, and the rest. And that that is where some of the unease comes from, that people say, it shouldn't just be for wealthy people.

"Well, it isn't just for wealthy people. But there is that impression. And there is an impression among members that it is hard to have two homes, raise a family, and all the rest. So that's part of what the discussion is."

Pelosi said the issue for her is the "revolving door spinning madly" involving people in the Executive Branch, many of whom are "all connected to the special interests," she said.

A reporter noted that the American people don't think that "Congress gets things done."

Pelosi responded: "Look, we have a president who is ignoring the law, not honoring his oath of office, not honoring the office he holds. We have a funding challenge...we must pass the appropriations bills...

"We're still having the cap fight, the lifting of the debt ceiling. We have the president transferring nuclear technology as well as other weaponry to a country that is getting away with murder, and he chooses to ignore it... So we have important policy matters to deal with.

She concluded: "I think I've spent enough on speculating as to whether there'll be something (a COLA increase) or not, which we don't know if there will be."

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