IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Congressman: We're underpaid!

A Democratic congressman says a $174,000 salary is not enough money to live well in the District of Columbia.
Jim Moran
Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va. joins other members of the House of Representatives at a closed-door intelligence briefing, Sept. 11, 2013.

Virginia Democratic Rep. James Moran thinks members of Congress aren't getting paid enough.

Moran and his colleagues make $174,000 a year, but he says that’s not enough money to live comfortably in the nation's capital.

“Our pay has been frozen for three years and we’re planning on freezing it a fourth year. … A lot of members can’t even afford to live decently in Washington,” Moran told CQ Roll Call.

Moran is looking to do something about it. He plans to introduce an amendment to raise members' salary to an unspecified figure, according to the report. He's not optimistic the bill will go anywhere -- "this is wholly quixotic," he told the paper -- but he hopes it will highlight what he sees as a hardship for elected officials.

Washington, D.C. is the nation’s highest-income metropolitan area, and Census data from 2010 showed that the average salary for the city—$84,523—is less than half what members of Congress make. Americans as a whole make far less than that, with an average income of $50,000.

But Moran told Roll Call that many members of Congress live out of their offices while in the capital to save money, or have “small little apartment units” that prevent family time.

 “I think the American people should know that the members of Congress are underpaid,” Moran said. “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.”

By and large, lawmakers are hardly suffering from their six-figure salary: more than half of all the members of Congress are millionaires, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Moran, who has announced he will retire from Congress, has seen a big change in his finances during his time in office. In 2007, he was the 29th wealthiest member of the House of Representatives. In 2012, he was the 404th wealthiest member of the House of Representatives, according to the group.

Moran isn’t the first to complain about congressional pay. In 2011, Wisconsin Republican Rep. Sean Duffy was criticized for complaining about his salary to an underemployed construction worker.

“I struggle to meet my bills right now,” Duffy said, commenting that he drives a used minivan and struggles to pay his bills and mortgage. 

“But 174,000, that’s three times — that’s three of my family’s — three times what I make,” the constituent said.