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Virginia congressman appeals to American public for higher salary

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Virginia Democrat James P. Moran said Thursday, “I think the American people should know that the members of Congress are underpaid,” reported CQ Roll Call. “I understand that it’s widely felt that they underperform, but the fact is that this is the board of directors for the largest economic entity in the world.”

In the midst of Congress’s lowest polling numbers in decades, either Rep. Moran is a congressman standing up for principle or a stereotypical greedy Washington politician.

Moran plans to introduce an amendment to a Legislative Branch bill during the full committee markup and floor consideration of the bill. The congressman currently makes $174,000 excluding extensive benefits and the nation’s best health care package.

But that does not deter Rep. Moran. “I think the American people should know that the members of Congress are underpaid. I understand that it’s widely felt that they underperform, but the fact is that this is the board of directors for the largest economic entity in the world.”

He went on to contend that many members live out of their offices while others have small apartments making it impossible to spend the time they should with their families. He didn’t mention that each member is allowed a per diem allowance.

The appropriations bill Moran mentioned is one introduced by Republicans to show the chamber’s commitment to austerity by holding spending at current levels. In other words, to Moran’s horror, it would continue a freeze on lawmaker salaries that has been in place since 2010.

The Congressional Research Service noted that members began receiving a $6 per diem in 1789. The rate was eventually raised to $8 and remained there until 1856, when members began to receive annual salaries. “This is wholly quixotic,” Moran said. “Our pay has been frozen for three years and we’re planning on freezing it a fourth year. A lot of members can’t even afford to live decently in Washington,” he told Roll Call.

For a congressman to bring such a volatile issue to the nation’s attention when their polling numbers are as low as they have been in years makes many in Congress cringe.

Why would Rep. Moran bring the subject up now?

He announced he would retire from Congress as more than a dozen Democrats in Virginia’s 8th District vie to replace him.

The ironic fact in Moran’s salary issue is his district includes the inner suburbs of D.C. He can easily go home at night. And one more item, the seat is considered ‘Safe Democratic’ by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

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