Following a similar gesture in the Senate, the House voted Tuesday to freeze members’ pay before an automatic raise could kick in. It adds up to only $1 million in savings, but it’s the politics that count in this election/recession year.
Lawmakers frequently push such pay freezes in election years, and they are generally even more eager to do so in the midst of a recession.
The freeze, which Congress also passed last year, accomplishes little in a public-policy sense; the federal budget deficit is estimated at $1.3 trillion this year; the bill passed Tuesday would save less than $1 million.
At the same time, few lawmakers want to defend their own pay, as many in Congress are millionaires from previous work and the median household income in America remains just above $52,000.