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Congressman: Congressmen Are Underpaid

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Despite an increased push nation-wide for limits on campaign donations, term length and other factors affecting members of Congress, one Virginia representative recently claimed that federal legislators are still not paid enough. 

Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) spoke to CQ Roll Call regarding the financial situation of many Congress members. 

“I think the American people should know that the members of Congress are underpaid. I understand that it’s widely felt that they underperform, but the fact is that this is the board of directors for the largest economic entity in the world,” Moran said.

Moran argued that legislators are not paid enough to justify maintaining a residence and office in both Washington D.C. and in a home district. The representative's solution is to introduce a per diem for members of Congress, mimicking a practice carried out by many state legislators (as well as one that was used in U.S. Congress before the legislative body switched to salaries in 1856). This per diem would cover expenses such as housing, travel and meals for lawmakers. Moran will introduce an amendment to the spending bill that would result in a per diem for lawmakers, the USA Today reports. 

If history is any precedent, Moran’s bill is unlikely to be approved. It took more than 200 years for Congress to ratify the 27th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which prevents legislators from increasing their own salaries during a specific term. Although the amendment was proposed in 1789, it wasn’t until 1992 that Congress finally decided to approve the amendment which effects them so directly.

Moran’s introduction of the new amendment coincides with his recent announcement that he will retire from Congress at the end of this term. He currently serves Virginia’s 8th district.


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