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Congressman Says Lawmakers Don't 'Earn' Their $174k Salaries, Opposes Increase

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), a member of the House Budget Committee, told PJM that he would vote against a federal budget that raises pay for members of Congress.

Since 2009, congressional pay has been frozen at $174,000 annually. The $1 trillion fiscal 2020 budget currently under consideration in the House of Representatives would lift the freeze and result in a $4,500 salary increase. Gaetz said he would oppose the measure, noting that he had voted against some spending bills when the GOP had the House majority with former Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as speaker.

"No, it's not my view that members of Congress need to get a pay increase. I would like us to see an increase in the productivity of our work. Here, we, you know -- I don't think we earn the pay we get right now, frankly, so I would oppose that," Gaetz said Wednesday on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), a freshman lawmaker, was also asked if he would support a pay increase in the budget.

"I'm going to give you my general perspective on compensation in this place. I want the best and brightest to serve our country, I want to retain them and without opining specifically on the legislation and congressional pay, I simply want to see a system that rewards good people to come here and stick around for at least a reasonable amount of time to do good work on behalf of the country," Phillips said.

"For that matter, I welcome perspectives on both sides. I respect those who think government should absolutely operate as efficiently as possible but that doesn't mean that we should under-compensate people because we should have great people and we do, but in some cases, I think we could do better by them," he added.

Phillips also said the nation's rising national debt is something Congress should pay more attention to at this time.

"This should be injected into the national conversation right now. Our debt is deeply troublesome and as I think about these kids walking back and forth all day long, that's what we should be mindful of when using the national credit card," Phillips said. "We need more people here who are mindful of it and willing to start talking about how to rectify that."

Follow Nicholas Ballasy on Twitter @NicholasBallasy