Reid to Try Again to Block Congressional Pay Raises

Posted March 17, 2009 at 2:17pm

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he would attempt again Tuesday to pass a bill to prevent automatic Congressional pay raises.

Reid told reporters that he would ask for unanimous consent to pass the measure, which would force Congress to vote every year on whether to implement its annual cost-of-living increases.

Reid tried a similar gambit last week during consideration of the $410 billion omnibus spending package. But Reid was rebuffed by Republicans who wanted to amend the omnibus with nearly identical Congressional pay raise language rather than pass a separate bill.

Reid’s proposal was largely seen as an attempt to give Democrats political cover for voting down the GOP amendment, which they did.

If Republicans object again to passing the bill, Reid said he would bring it up at a later time —possibly before the Easter recess — and use procedural motions to overcome GOP objections. That would mean filing a motion to limit debate, or invoke cloture, on the bill, which takes 60 votes.

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) is unlikely to be an obstacle, even though he objected to Reid’s first attempt last week to get a vote on his pay raise amendment. Before Reid spoke to reporters, Vitter called on the leader to pass the pay raise freeze.

“I believe that even in the best of economic times, automatic pay raises for members of Congress are outrageous, but in these very troubling economic times, they are wholly offensive. There is no better time than right now to address this issue that really angers the American public and make good on the claims of bringing real change to the way Washington does business,— Vitter said in a statement.