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How to Get Your Legislator to Take a Pay Cut

Members of Congress are trying to quietly -- oh so quietly -- kill a bill that would cut their pay by 5%. That would reduce their salaries from the current $174,000 to a still regal $165,300.

How are they killing the bill? They're simply ignoring Ann Kirkpatrick's legislation, H.R. 4720. This bill, which has 32 co-sponsors, was referred to the House Oversight and Government Reform committee on March 2. There it sits, gathering dust and waiting until January, when it will die of natural causes. Any bill that's not passed dies when the legislative session ends.

That does a wonderful thing for a member of Congress. It allows them to kill a popular bill without ever voting against it.

Under normal circumstances, you might say that legislators are busy and may not have time to weigh complicated laws before the January deadline. But this isn't complicated legislation. The entire bill -- including the requisite formatting and legalese -- is one page. You can read it here, but it says just this: Starting January 1, 2011, members of Congress -- House and Senate -- would take a 5% pay cut, with all dollar amounts rounded to the nearest $100.

For most members, that means their pay would fall from $174,000 to $165,300 -- still comfortably above the poverty line. Minority and majority leaders would have their pay cut from $193,400 to $183,700.

Think that's reasonable at a time when the U.S. unemployment rate remains naggingly high and the federal budget deficit is at an all-time high? Then don't let the bill die, without forcing your elected representative to take a stand. Here's how:

Send your representatives a one-line letter or email: What are you doing to support H.R. 4720, which would cut Congressional pay by 5%?
Even if the bill doesn't get passed, you'll at least know what your elected representative did or didn't do to support this legislation.

What if you don't know who represents you or how to contact him or her? No problem, the government offers a contact widget that makes finding, writing, calling or emailing your elected representatives a snap.

Since this is a House bill, click on "U.S. Representatives" from the link above, then plug in your state and zip code. The search engine will provide the appropriate name and contact information. Additionally, all representatives now have web pages and most offer an "email me" function.

While you're at it, you can also sign Kirkpatrick's online petition at

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