Barber proposes 20 percent pay cut for Congress

Rep. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.) has introduced legislation that would cut congressional pay by 20 percent so that lawmakers will "share the pain" of federal workers hit by the sequester.

“Congress failed to address sequestration, which threatens Border Patrol agents with salary cuts of up to 40 percent,” Barber said. “It is only right that those of us in Congress share the pain of those agents, defense civilian employees and other federal employees who have been hit in their wallets because of Congress’ failure to act.”

A handful of lawmakers have voluntarily given up 5 percent of their salaries in solidarity with furloughed workers, joining President Obama. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has announced plans to donate 20 percent of his salary to charity. Barber's more dramatic proposal has no chance of passing. Like Obama's pay cut, it's a symbolic move.

Barber isn't the first member of Congress to suggest a giant pay cut. Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) proposed the same thing in January. But her bill was in response to the deficit; it would also freeze pay if the government ran a budget deficit in the prior year. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.) and David Loebsack (D-Iowa) proposed legislation that would cut member pay 10 percent and eliminate automatic salary increases. That legislation was meant to reflect the struggling economy.

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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