If you didn’t do your job, would you be allowed to give yourself a pay raise and not tell anyone?
I’m guessing no. And yet that’s exactly what can happen in Congress every year.
Since the Government Ethics Reform Act of 1989, members of Congress receive an annual adjustment in pay. Worse, this is done quietly. It’s not tied to appropriations — in fact, it’s not voted on at all. Every year, a pay increase goes into effect unless Congress affirmatively votes to stop it. During the eight years Republicans were in charge in the House, we consistently voted to freeze our own pay. And thanks to efforts before that, Congress hasn’t received a raise in nearly a decade.
That being said, under the current Democratic majority, some in Congress appear to view things a bit differently. They want to allow this year’s raise to go through automatically, ending nearly a decadelong precedent without accountability. Thankfully, they’re postponing consideration, but now it’s time for a more permanent solution.
Call me old fashioned, but I believe you should receive honest pay for honest work. With little to no serious legislative work being done on the House floor and faith in Congress close to a record low, why should taxpayers be on the hook to boost congressional pay without their knowledge?
They shouldn’t. That’s why I introduced the No Vote, No Raise Act.
My legislation, which I’ve introduced every Congress since 2009, will eliminate these automatic pay increases and will require that any salary adjustment be voted on. If representatives or senators think they deserve a raise, they should own it and their constituents should know.
Service in the people’s House is exactly that — service. We were sent here by the American people to be their voices, their representatives in this great experiment of self-government. My colleagues and I take that role seriously. During the Republican majority, we passed bold legislation designed to help people of all walks of life and backgrounds. We passed tax reform, which helped create our booming economy. We passed historic legislation to combat the opioid crisis, to make our communities safer, and reform the Department of Veterans Affairs so it better serves our veterans. We made the American people our priority.
Despite these legislative accomplishments, we never once asked for a raise. We voted every single year to freeze our own pay because we aren’t here to serve ourselves. We’re here to serve you.
However, it’s more than just one vote. A system that automatically provides members of Congress with a bump in pay is a bad system. With faith in government sagging, it’s a problem that needs to be fixed.
Being the people’s voice means being accountable to the people, and that starts with trust. We should be taking every step possible to ensure that we are transparent to the people who sent us here. I encourage my colleagues to continue the pay freeze, and to pass my No Vote, No Raise Act to show their constituents how seriously they view their role in this chamber.
Bob Latta, of Bowling Green, is a Republican representing Ohio’s 5th Congressional District, which includes Williams County. This column originally ran in the Washington Examiner on June 20.