With the constant political mess in Congress, I started to wonder (again): why do these guys work so hard to get elected? Is it worth it?
Since Congress is gridlocked … and, since the President is end-running Congress on most matters … the fulfillment can’t be “having an impact”.
So, it must be something else.
Raises the question: how much dough gets thrown into the pot?
Here’s the scoop…
For openers, the average member of Congress (there are 529 of them) gets paid $174,000 per year.
House leadership gets paid more … Top is Speaker of the House who gets $223,500 a year.
Not bad … but, not exactly hitting PowerBall.
What else is there?
Well, all members get expense budgets called Members’ Representational Allowance (MRA)
In 2012, individual representatives received MRA allowances ranging from $1,270,129 to $1,564,613 (depending mostly on travel distance from DC to the reps home district) … with an average of $1,353,205. Source
About 2/3’s of the MRA pays staff salaries, so there may be some fancy wining & dining, but not enough to make me cringe.
How about their retirement plan?
I’ve always wondered what retired members of the Congress and Senate got to live on when they retired.
Members of Congress are eligible for a pension at age 62 if they have completed at least five years of service. (Certain partial pay early options are also available)
The amount of the pension depends on years of service, an accrual rate (2.5%), and the average of the highest three years of salary.
For example, after 30 years of Congressional service and a high-3 average salary of $161,800, the initial annual Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) pension for a Member who retired in December 2006 at the end of the 109th Congress would be:
$161,800 x 30 x .025 = $121,350
Federal law limits the maximum CSRS pension that may be paid at the start of retirement to 80% of the Member’s final annual salary
The average annual pension for members of Congress who have retired under CSRS is $52,464. Source:
For those keeping score, that’s about double what folks get if they max Social Security.
And, oh yeah, they get generous health insurance subsidies … wouldn’t want them stuck in some narrow doctors’ network, right?
Add it all up and it’s not a bad package.
* * * * *