Annual Pay Freeze for Congress? Done!

By on December 9, 2010 in Current Events with 6 Comments

Many readers are understandably upset about the proposed freeze on their pay. One recurring comment we see from readers says something to the effect of “If we have to have our pay frozen, then it is only fair that Congress has its pay frozen as well.”

It may be of some consolation to those making this argument that members of Congress have already frozen their own pay for FY 2011. On May 14, 2010, President Obama signed into law HR 5146 which blocked members of Congress from receiving an automatic pay raise in FY 2011.

So how much is that? It keeps their salaries at $174,000 per year and blocks a $1,600 automatic raise, which would have been approximately a 0.92% increase on the annual total. Under the system in place, Congressional pay automatically increases each year by default unless members vote to block the increase which they have now done for 2 years in a row.

In total annual dollars saved, that works out to $160,000 in the Senate (for 100 members) and in the House it is an annual savings of $696,000 (for 435 members). That makes the freeze a largely symbolic gesture as it won’t go very far in reducing the federal deficit which is currently just shy of $14 trillion, but no doubt lawmakers are hoping the action will help to assuage some of the negative perceptions people have about those in office.

Update: It should be noted that Congress opted out of its automatic raise in 2010 also making this the second year in a row members have voted not to take their automatic pay increase.

© 2016 Ian Smith. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Ian Smith.

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce. Ian also has a background in web development and does the technical work for the web site and its sibling sites.

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  1. Mike says:

    It’s not just Congressional pay raises they should give up, since most don’t need it to begin with, but the lifetime benefits need to be changed to the same things the rest of the gov employees get. Once you’re out of congress then you either work or use your TSP/SS/retirement savings like the rest of us do. Also the same for health insurance.
    I think it’s a stupid idea to pay these guys for life for a few years of so called work. Hell most of the time they’re not in session!

  2. Tony says:

    here is my problem with the proposal, I am a fairly new federal employee and went jump up grades to a senior level of a 12. the steps go 5,7,9,11,12. why should the new guys be stuck at a job which easily deserves at least a pay of an 11. new guys generally work harder, if this goes pay vanishes temporarily this is going to create some very poor moral of all new employees whom have to work twice as hard. Here is an idea… Freeze ONLY within grade increase not jumps to another grade…which in my case is more than warranted.

    • anonymous says:

      I think the grade increases should be kept for those who can’t get a step. Some of us work hard enough and train GS-11’s, GS-12’s etc but can’t be promoted due to the buddy system.

  3. granny says:

    People complain of the high salaries of federal employees….Read my words….Most of your high paying jobs are in Washington, DC. We work every day for a heck of a lot less pay, no perks, no assistants and no bonuses just to name a few. We don’t get recesses like your politicians and we don’t get to take lavish vacations, no free parking and no free health insurance and we don’t get to vote ourselves huge raises and when we retire we are not as fortunate as they are. Our little measley raise of 1.3 or 1.5%, we may see up to $20 if we are lucky, yet everything else goes up. Check it out and you will be surprised. Someone has really done a snow job on you people. Also, why should we help pay the deficit down? We didn’t make it. How many of the companies we bailed out has paid back the govetnment or is the government writing that off? You are so worried about your kids and grandkids inheriting this deficeit. By the time they grow up things will have changed. We can’t worry about tomorrows, we have to worry about NOW as there might not be any tomorrows. What about the people now, our elderly and small unfortunate children being born to mothers who have 4 and 5 different baby daddies who probably don’t spend all their checks on the kids and sell their stamps to get beer, alcohol and drugs and the only time the daddies show up is at the first of the month when they get their checks. YET, people who need a little subsistance to help get them over the hump and they do have jobs don’t get a damn thing. This country is going downhill. It is not getting any better, just worse. It shouldn’t atter whether you are Republican or Democrat. ITt is about doing what is right for the people. You are suppose to be working for us.

  4. J Collins says:

    Is Congress also decreasing it’s retirement pay by using a high five formula as it is considering for we workers? How about increases to it’s health care costs now and after retirement? Congress members must lead they way by increasing their own personal costs and decreasing their benefits, especially after retirement, if they are to win our support for cuts and cost increases. In fact, because their salaries and benefits are so much better than those of most workers, they must decrease them by a larger percentage than they decrase ours by. Congress, if you truly believe that decreases will help solve our economic situation, than lead the way for us to follow.

  5. Harry Gravely says:

    When government reduces wages, the private sector will follow the lead. So all All you private sector folks will see your wages also going backwards. You have given government the will to reduce our standard of living which now is the bar set for private sector employers to follow. Have you ever seen a company that would miss this golden opportunity to follow the example of the FED and reduce overhead and increase profits? When this finally dawns on you private sector folks – don’t whine. You started it.