The Congressional Wage

The Congressional Wage

Members of Congress will earn $174,000 plus deluxe benefits next year even though the House calendar shows they will only work for 113 days, just 1/3 of the year. In contrast, 40% of Americans earned less than $20,000 last year and a majority of U.S. workers earned under $30,000.

A bill raising the minimum wage to $10.00 an hour will be introduced this month. How does that compare with the Congressional wage?

“Breaking the numbers down … members of the House of Representatives will make approximately $1,539.82 per day or, given an eight-hour work day, roughly $192.47 per hour.”

– “Congress Working Less Than 1/3 Of Year In 2014, Getting Full Salary,” CBS Miami

Related:

“Median wage falls to lowest level since 1998,” David Cay Johnston, Al Jazeera America

“Feeding families made more hungry by Congress,” Alexandra Ashbrook and Patty Stonesifer, Washington Post op ed

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 Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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4 Responses to “The Congressional Wage”

  1. Micah Says:

    While I understand frustration with how insanely dysfunctional the Congress is, this is a gross mischaracterization of the reality for most elected officials. They may be in session in Washington for 113 days, but many of them work insane hours doing events in their districts, fundraising, and campaigning. Many work 6-7 days a week with little free time. Beat up on them for being collectively terrible at their jobs, but this populist line about them being lazy is misguided.

    They typically also have to pay housing in both Washington D.C. and their home districts, and many of them would be making far more if they worked in the private sector. Consider how much worse (if that’s even possible) it would be if Members of Congress were paid nothing, leaving the job to only the very wealthy who could afford to work for nothing.

  2. Mike Licht Says:

    Micah Says:

    “They may be in session in Washington for 113 days, but many of them work insane hours doing events in their districts, fundraising, and campaigning.”

    Since when is “fundraising, and campaigning” the People’s business? God save the Republic.

    “… leaving the job to only the very wealthy”

    That’s exactly what we’ve got now — count the number of millionaires in Congress. They can afford to loan themselves campaign money and pay themselves back with donations they shake down from constituents and special interest groups.

    “they typically also have to pay housing in both Washington D.C. and their home districts”

    They fly to DC Monday night or Tuesday morning and leave again on Thursday afternoon. That’s 2 or 3 nights a week. At some point they’re ready to become lobbyists and they buy sprawling homes in suburban Virginia or DC townhouses.

    “many of them would be making far more if they worked in the private sector”

    And many will, when they leave office and become K Street lobbyists on the strength of their Congressional experience and contacts. Their staffers do this too.

  3. Micah Says:

    Yes, just under half of the Members of Congress are worth more than $1 million, which certainly isn’t representative of the public. But almost all of those millionaires got that way before coming into Congress. So we should only pay them $10 an hour and expect that we get better representation? Or arbitrarily increase the congressional calendar for 5 days a week in Washington instead of in their home states/districts?

    [Edited for length]

  4. Mike Licht Says:

    Micah wrote: Yes, just under half of the Members of Congress are worth more than $1 million …. But almost all of those millionaires got that way before coming into Congress.

    So we would expect them to lose money when they take time out to serve in Congress — but they usually become wealthier. What does that say about their private sector chops?

    So we should only pay them $10 an hour

    Only after the Federal minimum wage is raised to $10 an hour. Until then, pay them the current Federal minimum, $7.25 an hour.

    Or arbitrarily increase the congressional calendar for 5 days a week in Washington …

    Simply pay them for time worked, with no health or travel benefits. There’s nothing arbitrary about it — that’s how other contingent workers are paid in the USA.

    … instead of in their home states/districts?

    Talking at the Moose Lodge luncheon is not work. Accepting a campaign donation from the local Studebaker dealer is not work. No work, no pay. God Bless America.

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