Today, Rep. Bill Foster (IL-14) joined a bipartisan group of Representatives asking for a reduction in Congressional salaries. If successful, this would be the first Congressional pay cut in 77 years.
"Before Congress begins making the tough choices to get our fiscal house in order," said Foster, "let's make an easy one -- cut our pay by 5%."
The bipartisan coalition sent a letter this morning to the Chairwoman and Ranking Member of the House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee asking that the text of H.R. 4720, the Taking Responsibility for Congressional Pay Act, legislation that would cut Congressional salaries by five percent, be included in the Legislative Appropriations Act of 2011. Foster is a co-sponsor of H.R. 4720.
The text of the letter appears below.
Dear Chairman Wasserman Schultz and Ranking Member Aderholt,
On March 2, 2010, and in the weeks following, we took the first step toward giving Congress its first pay cut in over 77 years with H.R. 4720, the Taking Responsibility for Congressional Pay Act of 2010. While this bill already has 29 co-sponsors -- more than any previous effort to cut Members' pay -- we will not be satisfied until we and all of our colleagues have an opportunity to vote on this issue on the House Floor.
Up to this point, we have attempted to use the traditional avenue for final passage -- committee hearing, committee mark-up, and then a vote on the House Floor.
However, we write today to request that the Legislative Branch Subcommittee include the text of this bill to cut pay for Members of Congress as part of the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 2011.
We are proud to represent hard-working families across America, where we have always understood that in good times and bad times, we have to be wise with our money. Even as we begin to emerge from a weak economy, our families and our communities are being forced to cut back and make tough decisions.
Congress should not be exempt from these tough decisions. Members have an opportunity to lead by example at the federal level and do what many of our families and communities have already started to do -- cut back. Senators and Representatives will have to take big steps and small steps to restore our country's fiscal health. Moreover, as Congress considers and proposes cuts to important programs across the federal government, Members should do the right thing -- start with their pay. Then, and only then, can Senators and Representatives look others in the eyes and ask that they cut too. Until then, Congress merely follows in the long Washington tradition of leading with words and not action.
Our predecessors believed that they had a responsibility to take a pay cut in the middle of the Great Depression and we believe Congress has the same responsibility today. Just as importantly, Senators and Representatives can send a clear and simple message to everyone back home that we understand that they are hurting, that they are being forced to make do with less, and that our country wants a new Washington, not the same old Washinton.
As the downturn continues, many Americans are tightening their belts to make their money go further. In the face of our ever-increasing federal debt, the federal government must follow their example by finding common-sense solutions to cut spending. That includes -- and should start with -- the House and the Senate. We must take real steps toward fiscal balance.
Moving forward, we respectfully ask that you and your colleagues on the Subcommittee include a five percent pay cut for Members of Congress in the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 2011. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.
Bill Foster (IL-14)
Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-01)
Harry Teague (NM-02)
Robert Wittman (VA-01)
Travis Childers (MS-01)
Larry Kissell (NC-08)
Glenn Thompson (PA-05)
Dave Loebsack (IA-02)
Betsy Markey (CO-04)
Tom Perriello (VA-05)