Congressman Leonard Lance yesterday voted to block federal lawmakers from receiving automatic pay increases for fiscal year 2011. Lance was a sponsor of the bill and has supported passage of similar legislation in the past.
"With unemployment in New Jersey at nearly 10 percent and a soaring national deficit, many of New Jersey's working families are tightening their budget belts. Congress must do the same and yesterday's vote is a small step in the direction of fiscal responsibility," Lance said.
In 1989, Congress approved a process that provides lawmakers with an automatic pay raise unless they vote specifically to reject the raise. Yesterday passage of H.R. 5146 will block the annual cost-of-living adjustment for the salaries of Members of Congress in 2011 -- saving taxpayers approximately one million dollars. The Senate passed identical legislation (S. 3244) denying the automatic $1,600 pay raise last week.
But Lance cautioned that yesterday's action, while laudable, is not a panacea for putting our economy on the path of recovery.
"Freezing member's pay is only a symbolic gesture. In order to make real progress toward fiscal responsibility Congress must go further and freeze overall congressional spending. Only then will the American people see that we are changing the way that business is done in Washington," Lance concluded.
Congressman Lance is an original sponsor of a constitutional amendment to limit federal spending. This proposal mirrors the Lance Amendment to the New Jersey State Constitution that prohibits further state borrowing without voter approval. And Lance was the first member of the New Jersey congressional delegation to publicly reject seeking federal earmarks in the fiscal year 2011 budget, citing current fiscal constraints and the mounting national debt.