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Updated Apr 10, 2013, 11:58 am Originally posted Apr 10, 2013, 11:37 am
Blasting possible sequestration cuts to the salaries of Border Patrol agents and civilian defense employees, U.S. Rep. Ron Barber introduced a bill Wednesday that would cut congressional pay by 20 percent. Members of Congress now are paid $174,000; the last time Congress cut its pay was in 1933.
"Congress failed to address sequestration, which threatens Border Patrol agents with salary cuts of up to 40 percent," Barber said in a press release. "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."
Budget cuts mandated under sequestration led the Department of Homeland Security to announce furloughs for border agents — one day every two weeks — and steep reductions in overtime. "Taken together, that would cut the pay of agents on the Southwestern border by up to 40 percent," said the release from Barber's spokesman, Mark Kimble.
Representatives and Senators are paid $174,000 per year. The House speaker is paid $223,500, while the Senate president pro tem and majority and minority leaders in both houses are paid $193,400.
The proposed pay cut could not take effect until after the 2014 election; the 27th Amendment does not allow adjustments to pay in between election cycles.
The last time Congress took a cut in pay was in 1933, during the Great Depression. Members' salaries went from $9,000 to $8,500 per year, a 5.6 percent reduction.
In 2011, then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords proposed a five-percent pay cut for members of Congress just two days before she was shot in an assassination attempt.
"Members of Congress must set an example and there's no better way to do that than by cutting our own salaries," she said at the time.
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While Congress did cut office budgets by five percent in 2011, that pay cut did not pass.
TucsonSentinel.com's original reporting and curation of border and immigration news is generously supported in part by a grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.