• Florida congressman wants a pay raise

    By: Dorey Scheimer , Washington News Bureau

    Updated:

    U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings has served in the House of Representatives for 22 years. He makes note of many changes since he first took office, but one thing that hasn’t changed enough, according to Hastings, is his congressional pay check.

    The House has voted to freeze its members pay at $174,000 a year for the past nine years.

    Hastings, a Democrat who represents Florida's 20th district, took to the floor Thursday to push his colleagues to raise their own salaries as part of the 2017 legislative branch’s funding bill.

    “I think it’s wrong for members of the House of Representatives to live in their offices,” Hastings said, a reference to the dozens of lawmakers who sleep on cots in their offices to avoid paying rent for a home in Washington. “The public does not understand that nearly 100 members, including the Speaker of the House of Representatives, live in their offices. Something is drastically wrong with that.”

    Hastings argues their salaries are not high enough to cover the high cost of living in Washington, where members live in when Congress is in session.

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median income for Americans is about $51,000. The cost
     of living in the nation’s capital is among the highest in the country. The average cost of a one-bedroom apartment is just over $2,000.

    Speaker Paul Ryan, who has said he sleeps in his Washington office because it’s convenient, said the House would authorize a freeze on members' pay for another year, writing in a blog post “serious commitment to cutting spending starts with leading by example.”

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    "I know this: I have had a lot of members on both sides of the aisle say to me that they know that I’m correct,” Hastings said in his closing remarks. “Courage, friends, courage. That is what it takes.” 

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