Roy Exum: Is Congress Underpaid?

Saturday, April 5, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Jim Moran is a congressman from Virginia who has just claimed most members of our House of Representatives in Washington are underpaid. The Democrat, who is not running for reelection, will soon introduce an amendment on a spending bill that will provide a per diem addition to an annual salary of $174,000 for each member of the House of Representatives.

“I think the American people should know that the members of Congress are underpaid,” Moran told CQ Roll Call recently. “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,” he said.

He explained it is a matter that must be addressed. “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,” he told the political website.

So in somewhat of an informative exercise, let’s look at GovTrack.us and study the “report cards” for Charles “Chuck” Fleischmann (R-Chattanooga) and Scott DesJarlais (R-Jasper) to determine if they are being underpaid as Congressmen from Tennessee’s 3rd and 4th Districts.

Mind you, there are nine representatives in Congress from the state of Tennessee:

* * *

BILLS INTRODUCED

FLEISCHMANN -- First lowest among Tennessee Delegation; tied with one other after he introduced four bills and resolutions in 2013. Among all House Republicans he ranked 61st lowest (tied with 34 others) out of 396 and of all members was 63rd (tied with 36 others) out of 439.

DesJARLAIS – First lowest among Tennessee Delegation; tied with one other after he introduced four bills and resolutions in 2013. Among all House Republicans he ranked 61st lowest (tied with 34 others) out of 396 and of all members was 63rd (tied with 36 others) out of 439.

* * *

BILLS COSPONSORED

FLIESCHMANN – First lowest among Tennessee Delegation after he cosponsored 95 bills and resolutions introduced by other members of Congress. Cosponsorship shows a willingness to work with others to advance policy goals. Among all House Republicans he ranked 45th lowest and of all members was 58th.

DesJARLAIS – Second lowest among Tennessee delegation after DesJarlais’s bills and resolutions had 36 cosponsors in 2013. Among all House Republicans he was 43rd lowest and of all members was 83rd.

* * *

WORKING WITH THE SENATE

FLEISCHMANN -- The House and Senate often work on the same issue simultaneously by introducing companion bills in each chamber. One of Fleischmann’s bills and resolutions had a companion bill in the Senate. He was second lowest among the Tennessee delegation, 76th  highest (tied with 73 others) among House Republicans and 152nd highest (tied with 127) among all members.

DesJARELAIS – One of DesJarlais’ bills and resolutions had a companion bill in the Senate. He was second lowest among the Tennessee delegation, 76th highest (tied with 73 others) among House Republicans and 152nd highest (tied with 127) among all members.

* * *

POWERFUL COSPONSORS

FLIESCHMANN – He was first lowest among the Tennessee delegation with NO bills and resolutions in 2013 had a cosponsor who was a chair or ranking member of a committee that the bill was referred to. Getting support from committee leaders on relevant committees is a crucial step in moving legislation forward. He was first lowest among House Repulicans and first lowest among all members.

DesJARLAIS – He had one bill in 2013 that had a chair or ranking member. He was third lowest among the Tennessee Delegation, 74th lowest among (tied with 70) House Republicans and 139th lowest (tied with 133) among all members.

* * *

JOINING BIPARTISAN BILLS

FLEISCHMANN – He was first among the Tennessee Delegation with 2 percent of the 95 bills he cosponsored introduced by someone other than a Republican. He was 11th lowest of House Republicans and 11th lowest among all members.

DesJARLAIS – He was ranked 15 percent of all Republicans when four percent of his 112 bills were introduced by someone other than a Republican. He ranked third lowest among the Tennessee Delegation, ranked 17th lowest among House Republicans and 48th lowest of all members.

* * *

MISSED VOTES

FLEISCHMANN -- He missed 1.4 percent of votes (9 of 641) in the 2013 session to rank four lowest in the Tennessee delegation and 156th lowest (tied with 20) among all members.

DesJARLAIS – He missed 1.4 percent of votes (9 of 641) in the 2013 session to rank four lowest in the Tennessee delegation and 156th lowest (tied with 20) among all members. (Tied with Fleischmann)

* * *

BILLS OUT OF COMMITTEE

Most bills and resolutions languish in committee without any action. Neither Fleischmann or DesJarlais introduced bills and resolutions in 2013 that got a committee vote sending it to the floor for further consideration. (Lowest in every category)

* * *

GOVERNMENT TRANSPARENCY

Neither Fleischmann nor DesJarlais supported any of 12 bills that dealt with Government Transparency in 2013. (Lowest in every category)

* * *

LAWS ENACTED

Neither Fleischmann nor DesJarlais introduced bill that became law in 2013. (Lowest in every category.)

* * *

So, do Chuck Fleischmann and Scott DesJarlais deserve a raise after serving as noted on “the board of directors for the largest economic entity in the world?” It is a question the voters will decide later this year.

royexum@aol.com



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