• Sequestration cuts may target staffers, not lawmakers

    By: Scott MacFarlane


    WASHINGTON - Congress is facing sweeping cuts linked to sequestration, but the pay cuts may be limited to staffers, not lawmakers

    Those congressional staffers include the people who take calls on Capitol Hill, help you with your Social Security check or VA benefits, or the IRS. Their salaries will be cut by $71 million by the year's end.

    But the salaries of senators and congressmen won't be cut at all.

    Channel 2's Scott MacFarlane obtained a memo sent by House administrators which said furloughs are possible for U.S. House and Senate staffers.

    Channel 2 Action News revealed each local member of the U.S. House will likely have to chop about $100,000 from the budget within nine months.

    Brad Fitch, an executive with the Congressional Management Foundation, said behind closed doors congressional aides are talking about pay cuts, furloughs and reductions in the popular telephone and in-person town hall meetings.

    "It's not only possible you're going to get a different level service, it's almost inevitable. You can't make cuts on budgets that are already lean," Fitch said.

    A spokesperson for Atlanta Rep. David Scott said his office budget will revert to what it spent back in 2006.

    Sen. Johnny Isakson's office said he hopes to absorb the blow without major cuts.

    But one U.S. senator from California has ordered a hiring freeze and travel reductions. As for members of Congress, they won't lose a penny.

    The Constitution requires Congress to stage a separate vote to raise or lower its pay. Despite months of contingency planning for the budget crisis, no pay cut bill was approved.

    There is a new Senate pay cut bill being offered, but MacFarlane checked and it only has a handful of supporters so far.

    The average salary for U.S. House members is about $174,000. It is about the same for senators.


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