In this session of Congress, Rep. Wittman has introduced two pieces of legislation to bring new accountability to Congress. First is the No Budget, No Pay Act (H.R. 174), which would prohibit members of Congress from receiving paychecks if their respective chamber doesn’t pass a budget resolution by mid-April. Second is the Stay on Schedule resolution (H. Res. 17), which would amend House rules to prevent the House from taking a vacation in August when critical appropriations bills still remain to be passed. Rep. Wittman believes Congress must do its job and be accountable to the people.
Congress is required by Article I, Section 6, of the Constitution to determine its own pay. Under the terms of a 1989 law, Members of Congress automatically receive an annual cost-of-living pay increase unless they act to stop it. The annual increases are based on a formula calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which takes into consideration changes in private industry wages and salaries. Rep. Wittman strongly opposes automatic pay increases for Members of Congress.
Shortly after Rep. Wittman was elected in 2007, he supported efforts to block the pay raise effective January 2009. Unfortunately, Rep. Wittman had not been elected to Congress in time to vote against the automatic pay raise effective January 2008.
Social Security and Retirement Benefits for Members of Congress
All Members of Congress have been required to pay into the Social Security System since January 1, 1984, regardless of when they first entered Congress. Under current congressional retirement plans, Members of Congress are required to contribute 6.2% of their salaries to Social Security, as well as 1.3% of their full salary into the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund. Members of Congress are eligible for a pension at age 62 if they have completed at least five years of service. Members are eligible for a pension at age 50 if they have completed 20 years of service, or at any age after completing 25 years of service. The amount of the pension depends on years of service and the average of the highest three years of salary. By law, the starting amount of a Member's retirement annuity may not exceed 80% of his or her final salary.
Health Benefits for Members of Congress
Members of Congress and retired Members are entitled to participate in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) under the same rules as other federal employees. Members meeting minimum enrollment period requirements who are also eligible for an immediate annuity may continue to participate in the health benefit program when they retire. For an additional fee, incumbent Members can receive health care services from the Office of the Attending Physician in the U.S. Capitol; in addition, Members may purchase care from military hospitals using their FEHBP benefit. Members must also pay the same payroll taxes as all other workers for Medicare Part A coverage.