Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) spoke out on Tuesday about her support for pay raises for members of Congress. (Photo: Getty Images)

'Not a Popular Position,' But a Consistent One: To Fight Corruption on Capitol Hill, Ocasio-Cortez Backs Pay Raise for Congress

"Voting against cost of living increases for members of Congress may sound nice, but doing so only increases pressure on them to keep dark money loopholes open."

Julia Conley

Calling for cost-of-living increases for all workers including those who serve in Congress, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Tuesday decried House Democratic leaders' decision to table a spending bill that would include a small pay raise for senators and representatives.

Keeping elected officials' pay stagnant year after year is an invitation for representatives to enrich themselves through "loopholes and other forms of self-dealing," the progressive New York Democrat tweeted.

After several Democratic members from swing districts expressed concern that they'd face backlash from voters if the party approved a bill with a cost-of-living increase, amounting to an addition $4,500 per year for members of Congress, leaders postponed consideration of the proposal.

"Nobody wants to vote to give themselves a raise," freshman Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.) told Politico. "There's nothing good about that."

Ocasio-Cortez vehemently disagreed, explaining on Twitter that one benefit of extending cost-of-living adjustments to members of Congress is avoiding incentives for representatives and senators to accept cash from lobbyists and approve tax cuts for their wealthy donors like those included in the $1.5 trillion Republican tax law of 2017.

Members have made $174,000 per year since 2009, when Congress froze pay increases in light of the financial meltdown and recession. The average cost of living in the U.S. has risen by 14 percent in just the past three years, and Washington, D.C. is frequently ranked as one of the most expensive cities in the United States.

Fighting for a cost-of-living increase is not a popular position, Ocasio-Cortez said, but she argued it is consistent with her goal of reforming campaign finance, ending corruption in Washington, and fighting for fair wages for all workers.

Open Markets Institute fellow Matt Stoller agreed, writing, "You get what you pay for and if you cut the pay of public servants for a decade you get bribery and corruption."

Ocasio-Cortez and her supporters also argued that keeping public servants' compensation at the same level indefinitely keeps jobs on Capitol Hill out of reach for many Americans.

"If you don't want only millionaires to be in Congress, you have to treat it like a real job—and you have to treat members like professionals," wrote Benjamin Wittes, editor in chief of Lawfare.

Stagnant salaries for representatives have trickled down to staffers, Ocasio-Cortez added, making internships and positions in congressional offices feasible only for a richest young workers.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'Political Malpractice': House Democrats' Bill Wouldn't Add Dental to Medicare Until 2028

"I don't want to see it drawn out to as far as the House has proposed," Sen. Bernie Sanders said during a recent press call.

Jake Johnson ·

'How Many More Deaths Must It Take?' Barbados Leader Rips Rich Nations in Fierce UN Speech

"How many more variants of Covid-19 must arrive, how many more, before a worldwide plan for vaccinations will be implemented?"

Jake Johnson ·

To Avert Debt Ceiling Calamity, Democrats Urged to Finally Kill the Filibuster

"The solution is to blow up the filibuster at least for debt limit votes, just as Mitch blew it up to pack the Supreme Court for his big donors."

Jake Johnson ·

Biden Decries 'Outrageous' Treatment of Haitians at Border—But Keeps Deporting Them

"I'm glad to see President Biden speak out about the mistreatment of Haitian asylum-seekers. But his administration's use of Title 42 to deny them the right to make an asylum claim is a much bigger issue."

Jessica Corbett ·

Global Peace Activists Warn of Dangers of US-Led Anti-China Pacts

"No to military alliances and preparation for catastrophic wars," anti-war campaigners from over a dozen nations write in a letter decrying the new AUKUS agreement. "Yes to peace, disarmament, justice, and the climate."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo