By Rick Dandes
The Daily Item
A Valley congressman has joined others in calling for legislators to take a pay cut while many federal workers — but not the president or members of Congress — must face budget cuts of up to 20 percent.
“I wholeheartedly support calls for a reduction in pay for members of Congress while we face the sequestration,” said Rep. Lou Barletta, R-11 of Hazleton, Friday night. “In fact, I have repeatedly voted for pay freezes for members, and specifically asked that my compensation be suspended in advance of the feared government shutdown of 2011, when it seemed that pay for active duty military personnel would be interrupted.”
When Barletta was mayor of Hazleton, he voluntarily took a pay reduction when the city was in fiscal distress.
“I continue to support the “No Budget, No Pay” Act,” Barletta added, “which says that members of each chamber of Congress will have their pay suspended if they fail to do their duty and enact a budget on time.”
Rep. Tom Marino, R-10 of Cogan Station, agreed with Barletta, to a degree.
“It’s time that Congress makes the tough decisions to rein in spending and reduce the size and scope of government,” he said Friday, “and I have always believed that these cuts must start at the top with members of Congress, the president and vice president, cabinet secretaries, and top-earning managers in the public sector. For this reason, I opposed the president’s executive order increasing pay for the vice president and members of Congress, and voted in favor of the Congressional Pay Freeze and Responsibility Act last Congress.”
Northumberland Republican Committee chairwoman Beth Kremer agreed. “I feel if they are serious about helping the country they should all take pay cuts, but I doubt that will happen. They should all have to pay for health insurance and lose some perks. Extravagant vacations should be stopped; most people can’t even go on vacations.”
Both Sens. Robert Casey and Pat Toomey were traveling and unavailable for comment, said their representatives.
The push to cut the salaries of legislators is taking root in the Senate, when on Friday, Sen. Bill Nelson, of Florida, said he wants congressional salaries docked the same as furloughed federal workers.
Almost a million workers could lose up to a quarter of their wages under sequestration, Nelson said. Then, he issued a statement on his plans for a bill to reduce Congress’s pay, tied to the greatest percentage of any federal worker furloughed as a result of the sequester. The bill would be called the Congressional Overspending Pay Accountability Act.
“No one should get paid for inaction,” Nelson said. “And Congress clearly hasn’t done the job to avert the sequester.”