COLA Wars

Posted October 24, 2003 at 5:17pm

Much to Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold’s chagrin, the Senate voted last week to defeat a measure that would have prevented Congress from receiving a cost-of-living pay increase next year.

Members’ pay is currently $154,700; the 2.2 percent automatic pay raise will boost their salaries to about $158,000.

“How can Congress give itself a $3,400 pay raise, while nearly 9 million people are unemployed, and 2 million have been out of work for more than half a year?” Feingold asked following the defeat of his amendment to the Transportation-Treasury spending bill.

Thirty-three of Feingold’s colleagues voted with him. The House approved its version of the spending bill with the COLA included last month.

With this pay raise, Congress has received five raises in a row that are worth $21,000 — “more than the average annual Social Security benefit for a retired worker and spouse,” Feingold charged.

While rank-and-file Members of Congress will receive $158,000 next year, top leaders in the House and Senate will receive salaries of about $200,000.

Detailees, Dos and Don’ts. While shooting down Feingold’s amendment to the Treasury-Transportation bill Thursday, the Senate did approve one that would prohibit the Office of Personnel Management from implementing a proposed regulation that would restrict the detailing of executive branch employees to Congress.

The amendment, submitted by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), is almost identical to language proposed by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and is expected to be approved without issue in conference. (The House previously passed its version of Treasury-Transportation, which funds OPM.)

Starched Shirts. The House dry cleaning and laundry service opens its new location today in the Longworth House Office Building.

The dry cleaner and laundry, in Room B-239, will be open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Good Ol’ Girls. Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D) and Malaak Shabazz, daughter of slain civil rights leader Malcolm X, will headline the Women’s Information Network’s 15th anniversary celebration Wednesday night at Vida, located at 1120 20th St. NW.

The Democratic, pro-abortion rights organization’s festivities, which last from 6:30 to 11 p.m., will include a silent auction.

For more information and to purchase tickets, call WIN at (202) 347-2827.

— Mark Preston, Suzanne Nelson, Jennifer Yachnin and Bree Hocking