WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Representative Ann Kirkpatrick is once again demanding immediate action on her bill to cut congressional pay, sending a letter calling on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer to end the delays and bring it up for a vote as soon as possible. The Taking Responsibility for Congressional Pay Act would reduce salaries for Senators and Representatives by five percent, and if passed would be the first congressional pay cut in 77 years.
The Congresswoman has been fighting for this legislation for months as part of her work to get government spending under control. The effort has earned overwhelming support across the country, with a recent independent poll showing that 75% of Americans want Members to cut their own pay until the budget is balanced.
But despite the public's backing, Democratic leadership has refused to even give the bill a hearing -- let alone schedule a vote.
"Congressional leadership has not listened to the public on the pay cut bill. But I am not going to let this legislation get swept under the rug," said Rep. Kirkpatrick. "This is something the folks back home want and that the country needs to restore fiscal discipline. It is time for Members of Congress to put their constituents before themselves -- we need to pass this bill now."
Rep. Kirkpatrick sees the legislation as the right thing to do for taxpayers who are taking pay cuts themselves and argues that it is a necessary first step to getting our fiscal house in order.
"Representatives have to make sacrifices of their own before they ask anyone else to do without," said Rep. Kirkpatrick in her letter. "For more than a decade, both parties have buried this country deeper and deeper in debt. Naturally, the American people now do not trust Congress to set the right priorities. We need to prove that we are actually serious about restoring fiscal discipline -- serious enough to start the cutbacks with our own pocketbooks."
Rep. Kirkpatrick is putting her money where her mouth is by returning five percent of her own salary to help pay down the federal debt.
In addition to the poll, the Congresswoman has heard from hundreds of folks across the country urging her to push through the pay cut bill, and the legislation has been endorsed by the National Taxpayers Union and The Senior Citizens League. Rep. Kirkpatrick has also brought on new co-sponsors as the public has made its views known -- despite the lack of leadership support she now has 32, more than for any previous pay cut measure.
The text of the Congresswoman's letter to leadership is included below.
Rep. Kirkpatrick's other efforts on Member pay include helping to lead the successful drives to block the automatic congressional pay hike for 2010 and 2011 and co-sponsoring a bill to permanently eliminate the automatic raise.
Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer,
We write today to urge you to acknowledge the overwhelming public support for the first congressional pay cut in almost eight decades and to schedule a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives on H.R. 4720, the Taking Responsibility for Congressional Pay Act, as soon as possible.
Representatives have to make sacrifices of their own before they ask anyone else to do without. For more than a decade, both parties have buried this country deeper and deeper in debt. Naturally, the American people now do not trust Congress to set the right priorities. We need to prove that we are actually serious about restoring fiscal discipline -- serious enough to start the cutbacks with our own pocketbooks.
In early March of this year, the Taking Responsibility for Congressional Pay Act was introduced as part of the fight to get us back to fiscal balance. H.R. 4720 reduces salaries for Senators and Representatives by five percent starting next January and blocks any automatic increase to member pay. It would be the first pay reduction for Congress in 77 years -- since the heart of the Great Depression.
From the beginning, this bill attracted widespread backing from folks across the country. Yet for months, and despite multiple requests to move it forward, the bill has not seen any progress in the House. It seems that it is being swept under the rug.
Late last month, we received clear evidence that this was in stark contrast to the will of the American people. A Rasmussen poll released August 31 showed that an astonishing 75% of likely voters want Members to reduce their salaries until the budget is balanced. This is a majority that cannot and must not be disregarded.
Folks understand that a congressional pay cut is both the right thing to do and critical to restoring fiscal discipline in Washington. They realize that our country is facing an unprecedented fiscal crisis, and we cannot keep leaving the tough decisions for next week or next month or next year. They get that the days of consequence-free spending in Washington have to be over. We need to show the people that we get it too and take action on the pay cut bill -- now.
We must develop a plan that works for the long run, and that means fundamentally changing the way we do business in Washington. This bill is not a silver bullet, but it is a necessary first step. We call on you to listen to the public and bring the Taking Responsibility for Congressional Pay Act to the floor immediately.
Please contact us directly if you have any questions or would like to further discuss this effort to make a real difference in addressing our growing deficits and skyrocketing debt.