The White House and Congress have until January 1 to reach a deal and avoid the looming fiscal cliff with tax hikes and deep spending cuts. There is a clear partisan divide in Washington that has led to political back-and-forth and theatrics.
However, things just got a whole lot more interesting on December 27 as President Obama signed an executive order that will have members of Congress and other federal workers see a 0.5% pay rise after March 27.
Congress members and senators who make $174,000 per year will see an additional $900 in their annual pay packages. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) will get a salary of $224,600, up $1,100. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) will see their pay jump $1,000 to $194,400. And Vice President Joe Biden will now be bringing home $231,900 before taxes next year.
The last time Congress members saw a pay increase was in 2009. This probably makes sense considering Congress' job approval ratings. Since Gallup started their poll in 1974, Congress' average approval rating is 33%. However, over the past few years, Congress' approval ratings have not even reached the 33% average.
Congress hit record-low 10% approval ratings in February and August 2011. Now, as the fiscal cliff deadline nears, Congress is only sitting at an 18% job approval rating with the American public.
If leaders in Washington don't reach a deal by January 1, Congress' approval rating could also nose dive off the cliff. The clock is ticking.