Congress

Leaders on collision course on member pay raise issue

Hoyer proceeding with cost of living adjustment in House, but McConnell says Senate will not include it

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., pictured here, is a proponent of raising member pay. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is not. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional leaders seem to be on a collision course over the issue of raising members’ pay, as the two majority leaders in the House and Senate are heading in opposite directions on the politically fraught issue.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer told CQ Roll Call Thursday that he expects to bring the Legislative Branch appropriations bill to the floor next week unchanged, meaning without language to block a cost-of-living adjustment to member salaries.

Asked if they have the votes to pass it, the Maryland Democrat said, “We’ll see. But I feel very strongly that’s the correct policy.”

But that is not where the GOP-controlled Senate is. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters on Thursday his chamber wouldn't go along with the COLA. That tracks with prior comments from Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, who said earlier this month that "Congress ought to earn it first.”

Hoyer said he has discussed the COLA matter with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy but declined to say whether the GOP leader was supporting it.

 

“My position on this is the same. I do not believe Congress should only be a place for millionaires,” McCarthy said when asked about the matter Thursday during his weekly press conference. 

The California Republican cited McConnell’s opposition as an obstacle to getting the COLA enacted. 

“Seeing what Leader McConnell has said there’s opposition — that does complicate the path for this to become law,” McCarthy said.

“I don’t want to prejudge the outcome here for the House. But it could put in doubt that it could become law,” he added.

It has yet to be decided whether the Legislative Branch bill will be coupled with either or both of the other two remaining appropriations bills, the Financial Services and Homeland Security measures, Hoyer said.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that one of the remaining bills may not hit the floor until after the July 4 recess, which Hoyer confirmed would be the Homeland Security measure.

“There’s a lot of work to do on Homeland,” he said. “Homeland is usually always a very complicated bill from the enforcement and the humanitarian standpoint. There’s a lot of different views. So it’s tough, and we’re working on it.”

Democratic leaders are working on potential amendments that would accommodate member concerns, he said.

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