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Begich: No Pay Raise for Congress

Senator Uses Position on Appropriations Committee to Prohibit Pay Increase

U.S. Senator Mark Begich said “no way” to pay raises for members of Congress next year and voted today in support of a member pay freeze that would prohibit U.S. senators and representatives from receiving cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increases next year.

“The provision that I supported today is effectively a pay freeze for members of Congress,” said Begich.  “As a member of the Appropriations Committee, it’s my responsibility to make sure we prioritize the way funds are spent.  A COLA increase for Congress is definitely not a priority.”

Begich has been an outspoken advocate of cutting costs and ensuring that members of Congress feel the pinch of budget cuts just like other Americans.  In 2012, Begich blew the whistle on an eleventh hour attempt to push through pay raises for the Senate.  In 2010 Begich introduced at budget amendment to freeze pay for members of Congress.  Begich has set strict budget limits on his own internal office and, as a result, has returned a portion of his office budget to the Treasury every year.  When his employees were furloughed as a result of sequester cuts, Begich donated his pay for each furlough day to charity.  Similarly, when the federal government was shut down last year, Begich returned a portion of his salary to the Treasury for the days his office was closed.  The salary for members of the Senate has remained the same for the past five years.

“We need to focus on getting our fiscal house in order,” said Begich.  “Anyone who supports a pay raise for Congress has their priorities mixed up.”

The Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill, passed out of the Appropriations Committee today, includes a number of provisions to curb spending such as reining in bonuses paid to underperforming government contractors.  The bill will spend $165 less million the amount of funding requested by the Administration to support the activities of the Legislative branch.

The Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill includes several cost-saving measures such as:

  • A Freeze on Member Pay – At a time when Alaska families are struggling, Members of Congress should not receive cost-of-living increase for FY15.
  • Veterans Hiring – Report language encouraging Members to consider veterans when hiring and encourages Congress to consider establishing a Congressional veterans program.
  • Contractor BonusesUnder these changes, agencies would be prohibited from giving performance bonuses to federal contractors who are behind schedule or over budget.
  • Allowing the Office of Compliance to email employee notices – The Office of Compliance is currently required to mail paper notifications to employees, when email notification would suffice.  This change will save $10,000 in postage costs per year.
  • A Prohibition on Federal Spending on Portraits – Currently, when certain government officials leave office, their agency is permitted to spend a certain amount to commission a portrait of the outgoing official.  In our current fiscal environment, however, we shouldn’t be spending money on Congressional portraits, and this bill would prohibit such spending.
  • Enhanced Senate Procurement – The Secretary of the Senate is currently not required to solicit bids when procuring stationery products. This provision will ensure the Senate gets the best deal possible when purchasing stationery.
  • Reduced the President’s request by $165 million.

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