From Big cuts spur calls to Congress from irate constituents, Thomas Ferraro, Reuters:

They have not worked together in Washington. And so the across-the-board cuts of the so-called "sequester" - which both Republicans and Democrats have said they oppose - took effect Friday night after President Barack Obama and Republican leaders failed to agree on a way to replace them with targeted spending reductions.

Up until the final few days before Friday, when the reductions began because of a law enacted in 2011, constituents urged, some begged, lawmakers to avert them.

The cuts threaten the U.S. economic recovery, could disrupt federal services from airports to national parks, and may force furloughs of hundreds of thousands of federal workers and employees of federal contractors, the administration says.

"They want to kill us all," Senator Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, said of his constituents.

The fact that the senator chooses the word us makes me wonder: does this sequester thing have any effect on politicians own salaries, benefits, working conditions, etc.? Or are they somehow exempted from the "across the board" cuts?

  • 1
    Duh. Of course not. On the other hand, given that they can vote to increase their own salaries to index by inflation, they also aren't affected by inflation caused by limitless borrowing-backed-spending that sequester is supposed to address, which is why Democrats didn't "work together" to meaningfully decrease spending.
    – user4012
    Mar 3, 2013 at 12:51
  • @DVK, I read that the point of the original law was to motivate bipartisan politicians to agree on a budget to prevent disaster. Personal consequences might have helped...
    – gerrit
    Mar 3, 2013 at 13:30
  • depends on what you consider to be a "good" end game. If your goal is to reduce spending (NOT raise taxes), punishing people who refuse to raise taxes seems counterproductive. If your goal is to raise taxes, punishing people who don't agree to "no taxes" approach is similarly counterproductive. The problem is that "meaningful compromise" won't work here, since one side views spending as the problem, and the other side proposes approaches that ALWAYS resulted in spending increases despite supposed "compromise" - taxes were raised but spending wasn't cut meaningfully (Reagan, Bush Sr.)
    – user4012
    Mar 3, 2013 at 13:36
  • Arguably, representatives passing a budget would be "good". Both of your cited goals are not goals, but means. The goal is to do what's believed to be best for the country. Whether austerity in times of crisis is good is debatable. Of course, what budget individual representatives support is at least governed by their ideology, and probably by their campaign funding sources too.
    – gerrit
    Mar 3, 2013 at 13:46
  • 1
    Technically, the sequester is a bad budget, and probably a lot better than a total government shutdown.
    – gerrit
    Mar 4, 2013 at 16:24

1 Answer 1


No. There was a bill to fix that, proposed by Rep. Charles “Charlie” Bass [R-NH2].

Under a bill offered by Rep. Charlie Bass (R-N.H.) ..., Obama, Vice President Biden and all members of Congress would get an 8.2 percent pay cut if they cannot find a way around the sequester, which will cut federal spending by $109 billion starting in January. (src )

The bill died.


H.R. 6438 (112th): Member Pay Reduction and Responsibility Act of 2012

Introduced: Sep 19, 2012 (112th Congress, 2011–2013)
Sponsor:    Rep. Charles Bass [R-NH2]
Status:     Died (Referred to Committee) 
35 cosponsors (31 Republicans, 4 Democrats) 

I'm SHOCKED! SHOCKED! That this went nowhere.

The approach was advocated by others, again with no traction. Here are some examples from random Googling:

Interestingly, Miami Herald says this (not sure if it's accurate):

But cutting lawmaker pay isn't so easy. The 27th Amendment prohibits members of Congress from changing their compensation until after the next election.


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