House Republicans have made it a top priority this year to secure cuts to nearly every federal government program, spending months taking aim at welfare programs in order to allow millions of Americans to starve and languish. But in the latest draft of their 2024 spending bill that is moving through the chamber, Republicans are seeking to raise spending for one key group: themselves.
Under the legislative branch spending bill approved by the House Appropriations Committee last month, House members would receive a 4.6 percent pay raise, according to the Congressional Research Service, reports Roll Call. This would be an $8,000 raise over their current salaries of $174,000.
If Republicans get their way, the raise would come in a bill that otherwise cuts spending across the board except for defense, veterans’ care and border militarization — drastically decreasing funding for public programs and the social safety net.
This would include cuts to crucial anti-poverty programs like Social Security, Medicare, and free school lunches. It would also, according to a new draft of the labor, health and education funding bill released Thursday, eliminate federal funding for public health research on issues like firearm safety and ending HIV while slashing Education Department funding by 28 percent.
In other words, Republicans are seeking to quite literally enrich themselves while taking every move possible to cut benefits for the public, who they are supposed to serve.
Lawmakers typically include language blocking a cost-of-living increase for themselves in the budget bill, and the provision may still be added back in when the bill goes through the rest of the appropriations process. But the inclusion of the raise even further underscores the idea that Republicans don’t actually care about reducing government spending when it comes to issues that could help themselves or their wealthy allies.
House Legislative Branch Appropriations Chair Mark Amodei (R-Nevada) told Roll Call that it’s “not exactly greedy” to raise lawmakers’ salaries since the last time they were raised was 2009.
“The policy supports, hey, once every twelve years, you can have a cost-of-living increase,” Amodei said. “But the politics is — you know how that will go.”
Amodei and fellow Republicans don’t appear to subscribe to that same philosophy for millions of workers across the country.
Coincidentally, 2009 was also the last time that Congress raised the federal minimum wage, something that Republicans are staunchly opposed to. In fact, every day that Congress fails to do so extends the longest period in the history of the policy that the minimum wage hasn’t been raised — and the wage is at its lowest value in 67 years.
At a mere $7.25 an hour, a worker would have to work over 1,100 hours, or over half a year assuming a 40-hour work week, just in order to be paid the same amount as the raise that Republicans are seeking to give themselves next year.