Nancy’s golden goodbye: Outgoing House speaker Pelosi raises maximum wage for staff in lower house of Congress by $38,000 to $212,000

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has decreed that Congress will once again raise its stiff salary cap for staffers – this time, to an eyewatering $212,100.

Pelosi – whose second stint as House Speaker began in 2019 – announced the change Friday, in what very well could be her last acts before being replaced in the now-Republican-dominated chamber.

It also serves as the third time the 82-year-old San Francisco official raised the maximum salary for House staff – to $199,300 last year and again in May to $203,700 to maintain parity with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

That said, the raise – which pertains to staffers in the lower chamber – now puts the new top-possible salary for aides at $38,000 more than what Senate staffers make themselves. 

In a statement, Pelosi, who is unlikely to continue her term as speaker come Sunday now that Republicans have regained control over the House, revealed the change for the New Year, and detailed her reasoning behind the substantial hike.

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Head of Congressional Ethics Office Arrested, Charged with DUI After Crashing Car Into House

The guy who has been in charge of the congressional ethics office for the past 12 years is an alcoholic who crashed his car into someone’s house while driving under the influence.

Omar Ashmawy, the head of the Congressional Ethics Office, was arrested and charged with a DUI last month, according to an exclusive report by Yahoo News published on Thursday.

Ashmway was suspended after crashing into a stop sign, hitting a parked car and plowing into the front porch of a house while drunk.

The criminal complaint was filed in a Pike County, Pennsylvania court.

“I’ve had some medical issues including a diagnosis of syncope that I am dealing with in this case, but this incident was a wake-up call to me that I have a problem with alcohol dependency,” Ashmawy said in a statement to Yahoo News. “I’ve since sought out treatment for my use of alcohol, and I’m currently in a program where I am addressing this dependency. I’m grateful for the continued support of my family, friends and colleagues.”

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The House fails to pass bill barring lawmakers from stock trading

Democrat Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia excoriated her party leadership including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer for delaying a potential vote this week meant to ban lawmakers from holding and trading in stocks. Spanberger even called for new leadership in the Democrat party.

Spanberger had partnered with Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.) to introduce the Transparent Representation Upholding Service and Trust in Congress Act on Jan. 15, 2021. The legislation had 71 co-sponsors, ranging from Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida to squad member Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.

The legislation would have required lawmakers and immediate family members to place stocks in a blind trust. 

Business Insider magazine’s Conflicted Congress investigation in December 2021 revealed dozens of STOCK Act violations, and numerous potential conflicts of interests driven by lawmakers’ stock holdings, as well as paltry enforcement of anti-insider trading rules. Forty-nine members of Congress and 182 senior congressional staffers violated laws aimed at preventing insider trading.

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The typical US Congress member is 12 times richer than the typical American household

Every year, members of US Congress are required to report on the value of their households’ income and assets. The data reveal that the lawmakers, who just passed a massive tax cut, are a very rich bunch.

In 2015, the most recent year for which Quartz could access this information, the median member of the US Congress was worth at least $1.1 million. That is more than 12 times greater than the net wealth of the median US household. And that doesn’t tell the whole story, since the chambers of congress are not equal in wealth terms. The median net worth of a senator was $3.2 million, versus $900,000 for members of the House of Representatives.

These are conservative estimates. Congress members are not required to report on the value of their residence, though many do. US household wealth estimates, which come from a survey conducted by the US Federal Reserve, include all real estate wealth.

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The well-traveled road from member of Congress to foreign agent

Earlier this month, a bipartisan bill was introduced in Congress that, among other important provisions to combat undue foreign influence in politics, would ban former members of Congress from lobbying on behalf of foreign governments. 

New Quincy Institute research finds that this congressional action is long overdue as the revolving door from Congress to lobbying on behalf of foreign interests has been spinning feverishly.

It’s no secret that when members of Congress leave office, they turn to one profession above all others: lobbying. Year in and year out, it’s the same story of former elected officials selling their connections and knowledge of how to make things happen (or not happen) in Washington to high-paying special interests. While this lobbying is often done on behalf of American interests — like big pharmaceuticalbanking, or weapons firms — former lawmakers have been lobbying on behalf of foreign interests more and more often in recent years.

We analyzed Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) filings since 2000 and found that at least 90 former members of Congress have registered as foreign agents, representing nearly half (87) of all countries in the world, and the trend has only become more pronounced in recent years. This raises critically important questions for U.S. national interests and highlights the importance of legislation to combat the potential risks of former members of Congress working for foreign interests.

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Disarming the Poor: Congress Proposes 1,000% Tax on AR-15s

If Congress won’t ban AR-15s, Democratic Rep. Don Beyer (VA) wants to slap a 1,000% tax on them – which would of course mean only people with lots of money, such as drug dealers and rich people, could afford them, while punishing lower-income Americans.

Introduced last week, Beyer’s Assault Weapons Excise Act has 36 Democratic co-sponsors, according to the Washington Post. The group hopes the idea might bypass the Senate filibuster, which would require the support of at least 10 Republicans.

According to Beyer, the idea is to increase the price to such a degree that it significantly limits who’s able to buy them. The tax would also apply to high-capacity magazines.

“It’s trying to hit the sweet spot, where it’s not an all-out ban, but people’s independent purchasing decisions would be much more ‘no’ than ‘yes,’” Beyer told the Post, adding. “You want to shift the demand curve pretty significantly.”

Beyer said part of the thinking behind the 1,000 percent figure was to have a high-enough fiscal impact that the Senate parliamentarian would find it qualifies for inclusion in a reconciliation package, meaning it could pass the Senate with a simple majority. -WaPo

“In a nation crying out for progress on gun safety, we would present a plausible way forward in this Senate,” he said.

The tax would only apply to newly purchased guns, and would not apply to government buyers. The proceeds would go into the general fund.

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