As Rep. Gabrielle Giffords works toward recovery after being shot in January, she has asked some of her colleagues to take the helm on an issue she has championed in the past: cutting Congressional salaries.
On the Arizona Democrat’s behalf, Democratic Reps. Chellie Pingree (Maine) and Jason Altmire (Pa.) and Republican Reps. Mike Coffman (Colo.) and David Schweikert (Ariz.) are circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter asking lawmakers to urge the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction to lower Congressional pay.
The only bill Giffords introduced in the 112th Congress before the near-fatal shooting at her Tucson, Ariz., constituent event was legislation to cut paychecks for Members of Congress.
A report released in July by the Taxpayers Protection Alliance and Our Generation said Members of Congress receive $174,000 per year, placing them among the highest-paid 5 percent of U.S. workers. With benefits, lawmakers are compensated about $285,000 per year.
To put this in context, the average full-time employee in the United States makes just more than $50,000 annually, according to the report.
“The last time Members of Congress took a cut in pay was on April 1, 1933 — in the midst of the Great Depression,” the draft letter to the super committee reads, adding that Congressional lawmakers are among the most well-compensated legislators in the world. “At a time of similar economic turmoil and record deficits, Congress should not require sacrifices of others without tightening its own belt.”
Reducing Member pay by 5 percent would save $50 million over 10 years, while a 10 percent pay cut would save $100 million during that time period, they say.
The letter was sent Thursday; the forces behind it hope that next week’s Congressional recess will give Members an opportunity to look into the issue and sign on as supporters.
“The committee could really send a message that it’s serious about tackling the debt” should it choose to take up the issue, said Richard Carbo, Altmire’s communications director.
Hill Neighborhood Metro Station Gets a New Name
New York Ave-Florida Ave-Gallaudet U will soon be no more.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority voted Thursday to rename the Metro station “NoMa-Gallaudet U.”
NoMa, named for the area north of Massachusetts Avenue, is close to Gallaudet University, the historic school for the deaf. It is a neighborhood that city planners and local officials — including Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) — have been striving to make more attractive to residents and business owners.
“Less than 20 years ago, NoMa was just a vision for the city,” Robin-Eve Jasper, president of the NoMa Business Improvement District, said in a statement. “Today NoMa is a vibrant and growing center of activity boasting tens of thousands of residents and office workers with more on the way ... the NoMa-Gallaudet U name literally puts NoMa on the map.”
The change is scheduled to go into effect June 2012, and Metro station maps will include New York Avenue as a secondary name for one year so as not to confuse Metro riders.