Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) Petitions to Force Vote on Bill to End Automatic Pay Raises
Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) is taking up a cause that’s sure to make him unpopular among colleagues: He’s trying to force a vote on legislation to end the automatic pay raises enjoyed by congressional lawmakers since 1989.
The Senate earlier this year passed a bill to do just that, but House Democratic leaders are sitting on it, hoping it goes away. Today, Massa announced the intention to circulate a discharge petition that would force a floor vote if at least half the House membership signs on.
As The Hill points out, discharge petitions are usually circulated by members of the minority party who want to force a vote on an issue unpalatable to the majority. It’s an embarrassment tactic, and for that reason members of the majority party don’t usually drop them on their own leaders.
In the midst of recession, lawmakers have already voted to forgo their pay raises in 2010, but the automatic raise mechanism will kick in once more in 2011 — a condition the Senate bill would prevent.
At least one lawmaker is cheering Massa’s move. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), the long-time sponsor of the Senate pay-raise bill, issued a statement this afternoon saying that it’s “inexcusable” for Congress to get raises while so many others across the country have lost their jobs.
“If members of Congress believe that they deserve a raise,” Feingold said, “they should be willing to vote on it in the open.”
Unfortunately for the Wisconsin senator, not many of his colleagues agree.