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Congressmen are 'underpaid,' can't afford to 'live decently' in DC

Published time: April 04, 2014 18:31
Edited time: April 06, 2014 06:18
U.S. Rep. Jim Moran.(AFP Photo / Alex Wong)

U.S. Rep. Jim Moran.(AFP Photo / Alex Wong)

Members of Congress make more than three times the median income of an American citizen, but one representative believes it’s not enough.

Speaking with CQ Roll Call, Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) said that the $174,000 annual salary lawmakers receive is not adequate enough compensation for their role in the government, to the point that their quality of life in Washington, DC, is affected.

“I think the American people should know that the members of Congress are underpaid,” Moran said. “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.”

Moran claimed that since lawmakers have to maintain two households – one in DC and one back in their home state – their allotted salary keeps them from living properly and spending time with their families.

Though Moran believes his compensation is too low, it’s still well above the median household income in the United States. As noted by CNN, that number was roughly $51,000 in 2012, statistically the same as the year before but down 8.3 percent since 2007.

According to the Associated Press, Congress has frozen its pay at $174,000 since 2010, and the House of Representatives is moving to keep the freeze in place another year. This approach did not garner the support of Moran, who is proposing an amendment that would grant congressional members a per diem payment to lessen the cost of housing.

“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.

"There are too many members living and sleeping in their offices. And it's wrong," Moran added to the AP. "And when you look into it, it's not that they're cheap, it's not that they're trying to game the system. They can't afford to live here. It's wrong."

Despite his move, Moran admitted to local DC news outlet WTOP that the amendment won’t gain much traction among his colleagues.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) agreed, telling the AP, "You won't get a lot of votes. But you'll make a lot of friends."