House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., agreed Tuesday morning that congressional salaries should increase.
Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, D-Fla., made the case for a lawmaker pay raise during a Rules Committee meeting Monday night, arguing that the high cost of living in the District of Columbia will lead to a situation where only wealthy people can afford to serve in Congress. "I agree with Mr. Hastings," Hoyer said in his weekly pen-and-pad briefing with reporters Tuesday morning. He echoed Hastings' argument, noting that the current salary "dictates the only people who can serve are the rich. I don't think that's what the Founding Fathers had in mind."
Hastings, the second poorest member according to CQ Roll Call's Wealth of Congress rankings, said Monday the institution is on the road to becoming one removed from those of moderate means and that current members with children realize the salary is not sufficient to send their children to college.
Members of Congress earn an average annual salary of $174,000. In April 2014, then-Rep. James P. Moran made headlines by making a similar argument for a pay raise. Lawmakers' salaries have been frozen since 2010, and the fiscal 2016 Legislative Branch spending bill the House is set to consider Tuesday afternoon continues that pay freeze.
On Tuesday, Hoyer said the salary freeze was appropriate during the recession, but it has been six years since salaries were adjusted for a cost of living. "I don't see a cost-of-living adjustment as a raise but staying even," Hoyer said.
Hoyer is also among the poorer lawmakers on Capitol Hill. He ranked 394th in CQ Roll Call's latest Wealth of Congress database. Hastings told CQ Roll Call Monday night that he spoke with Hoyer on the floor following the Rules Committee meeting.
"I will follow [Hoyer's] lead in that regard," Hastings said. "He, too, is concerned, as are many members who are afraid to express themselves for fear of some backlash in their communities."
"Congress is left afraid to speak up for itself," Hastings later added. "Well, I’m not.”
Emma Dumain and Hannah Hess contributed to this report. Related: Hastings: Members of Congress Need a Pay Raise (Video) Moran: Members Can’t Afford to Live Decently in D.C. (Audio) Moran Predicts Two-Class System Arising in Congress Moran’s Housing Stipend Gets Some Sympathy on House Floor A Case for Moran: ‘Underpaid’ Is Accurate The 114th: CQ Roll Call's Guide to the New Congress Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.