Reid Enables Senators to Side-Step Pay Raise Question

Posted March 10, 2009 at 6:46pm

An amendment to the omnibus bill that would have forced Members to vote every year on their pay raise failed in the Senate on Tuesday, but only after Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) offered up an identical stand-alone bill.Reid’s bill effectively gave Democrats cover to not vote for Sen. David Vitter’s (R-La.) amendment, which the Majority Leader worried would derail passage of the $410 billion omnibus package. The omnibus finally passed on a voice vote Tuesday night without amendments, meaning it did not have to go back to the House, which had passed the budget measure initially.With the economy collapsing and government spending skyrocketing, the always politically dicey issue of Congressional pay raises has taken on added heft this year.Vitter’s amendment, in fact, could have been agreed to without Reid’s decision to offer the same proposal in a stand-alone measure.On Tuesday, Reid proposed that Senators unanimously agree to his bill, but Vitter objected, claiming that Reid’s bill would never get heard on the House floor.“I believe the way to actually get this done is to insert it into a must-pass bill like the bill we have before us,— he said.Reid admitted that he hadn’t heard from House leaders. But the House, he said, will “take care of this themselves.—Reid’s bill apparently succeeded in easing Members’ concerns about voting against Vitter’s amendment. It was tabled by a tally of 52-45.John Stanton contributed to this report.