Campus Notebook: Lawmakers Champion Giffords’ Cause
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.
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