Democratic Rep. Jim Moran is taking up the cause of underpaid members of Congress, saying their six-figure salaries are insufficient to cover the cost of living in Washington, D.C.
“I think that the American people should know that the members of Congress are underpaid,” Moran told Roll Call. “And you know, 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, and a lot of members can’t even afford to live decently when they’re at their job in Washington.”
The current salary for a member of Congress is $174,000 a year. Moran noted that members’ pay has been frozen at that level for the past three years, and Congress plans to extend a fourth year.
Moran lamented that some members sleep in their offices, while “others have small little apartment units.” For his part, Moran’s congressional district covers parts of Northern Virginia including Arlington, making it unnecessary for him to maintain a second residence.
Moran said he felt members of Congress should be entitled to a per diem allowance.
The Virginia congressman plans to propose an amendment to alleviate Congress members’ financial burdens, though he told Roll Call he did not expect it to pass.
Despite his calls for a pay raise, Moran has been accused of using his position in Congress for his own financial gain.
In 2002, he supported a bill to overhaul the bankruptcy laws that was being heavily advocated by MBNA Corporation of Delaware, a credit card company who was found to have loaned Moran $447,500 “on what appeared to be highly favorable terms,” according to a New York Times article from the time.
Moran has also been accused — by author Peter Schweizer — of insider trading, allegedly using information he obtained in a congressional hearing to make more than 90 trades in a single day ahead of the 2008 financial collapse. Moran has denied wrongdoing.
He is retiring at the end of the year.