The congressman who said lawmakers in Washington are “underpaid” has introduced legislation that would give a daily housing stipend to members who travel to and from the Capitol for legislative business.
Democrat Jim Moran of Virginia proposed a measure giving lawmakers an additional $25 for every day they are working in DC, saying the money is needed to help them cope with the high cost of living in the area. Members of Congress are currently paid $174,000 per year.
The legislation – in the form of an amendment to a larger spending bill – failed Wednesday by voice vote in committee negotiations.
Moran’s proposal would only have applied to members whose primary residence is outside a 50 mile radius of the Capitol; Moran, who is retiring, would not have been eligible because his northern Virginia district is less than 10 miles from the halls of Congress.
"Federal elected office shouldn't be limited just to those who are financially independent and do not have to give thought to paying out-of-pocket for living expenses while in D.C.," Moran said in a statement. "We're in the 5th year of a COLA freeze for Members' pay. This reform would at least offer some relief from the cost of renting a second residence in the Washington Metropolitan area."
Moran was criticized last week for saying that members of Congress are “underpaid.”
“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,” he told CQ Roll Call.
Pay for members of Congress has been frozen for the past five years, and yet another pay freeze is included in the Legislative Appropriations Bill for 2015.
NBC's Carrie Dann contributed to this report.
First published April 9 2014, 11:23 AM
Frank Thorp V
Frank Thorp V is a producer and off-air reporter covering Congress for NBC News. He started this role in June 2011. Thorp is responsible for managing coverage of the House of Representatives, and supports Capitol Hill correspondents Kelly Oâ€™Donnell and Luke Russert in their reporting on Congress.
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Previously, Thorp served as NBC Newsâ€™ long-term presence in Haiti after a devastating earthquake hit that country in 2010. Thorp has also worked at CBS News.
He studied psychology at West Virginia University, and lives in Alexandria, Va. with his wife and chocolate lab.