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Congress must reclaim its authority as laid out in Article I of the Constitution, writes former Rep. Tom Davis.

Congress needs to reassert its authority

Davis represented Virginia in the House of Representatives from 1995 to 2008 as a Republican.

It seems that every day Congress takes a verbal beating from President Trump, the press and the public. In addition, there are many long-time members of Congress who have built their reputations on running against the institution, which at last count was running a 12 percent to 15 percent favorable rating among American voters.

This has spawned a small cottage industry of media, think tanks and academicians all of whom have been proposing "reforms" to make the system work the way it was supposed to work – as an Article I, independent branch of government, utilizing its checks and balances on the other two branches of government on behalf of the American public.

Most of these recommended reforms – although well-meaning and, occasionally, thoughtful – are chopped up in the partisan meatgrinder of congressional inaction.

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Ross Marchand takes issue with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who claims that lawmakers cannot afford two homes on their $174,000 annual salary when the median household income in D.C. is half that amount.

It makes no sense to give lawmakers more cents

Marchand is the director of policy for the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.

"We want a raise!" is a sentiment that many can relate to ... up to a point. Even though congressional salaries have been frozen for a decade (at $174,000 a year plus generous benefits), taxpayers across the country are understandably outraged that members of Congress are trying to vote themselves a raise. The issue appears to have been shelved for the time being, but will surely be back on the agenda sooner rather than later.

Some supporters of a pay hike argue that even higher compensation would attract better talent and deter members of Congress from pursuing lucrative lobbying jobs at the end of their tenure. In reality, America is stuck with the same jokers whether their salaries are set at $1 or $1,000,000. The best that taxpayers can do is hold members of Congress accountable for their reckless spending. The best Congress can do is to actually do something to prove they have earned the raise.

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A one-bedroom, one-bath apartment totaling 460 square foot will run you $1,950 on Capitol Hill.

Congress should get a pay raise, whether they deserve it or not

Drutman, a senior fellow in the political reform program at New America, and Kosar, vice president of policy at the R Street Institute, are co-directors of the nonpartisan Legislative Branch Capacity Working Group.

You've surely heard the old line, "The best Congress money can buy." Typically, it's said sardonically. In the classic formulation, it's not your money doing the buying. It's special interests and lobbyists forking over the dough. In exchange, they get the best Congress they can buy – for them.

But what if it were your money? How much should you, the taxpayers, be willing to pay? If you want a Congress that works for you, can you get it on the cheap?

The debate is not an academic one. House Democrats and Republican leaders have proposed boosting legislators' pay by providing a cost of living adjustment of $4,500. The current annual salary of $174,000 has not changed since 2009. Adjusted for inflation, that amounts to a 16 percent decrease.

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Three arguments for – and against – a Capitol pay raise

Plans for giving members of Congress the first salary increase in a decade blew up this week, and some "good government" advocates are sad about it. Why?

Congressional pay is among the most perennially fraught topics on Capitol Hill. House members and senators will always be delighted with bigger paychecks but don't want to be seen grabbing for them. Advocates for improving the functioning of Congress, thereby strengthening it in balance-of-powers fights with the president, argue that having the legislative branch spend more on itself is essential.

The House almost always takes the lead on deciding whether to accept an annual cost-of-living increase for all members. Despite bipartisan behind-the-scenes maneuvering designed to grease the wheels for a 3 percent raise in January, the Democratic leadership abandoned the idea when a bloc of their members cried out that they'd lose their seats as a consequence.

Beyond the political messiness, however, lie serious arguments for and against a boost in member pay. Here is a guide to the pros and cons central to the debate:

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