Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) has come a long way since a town hall meeting last year where he said he was “struggling” to get by on his $174,000 congressional salary.
In fact, Duffy is doing so well that he introduced a bill last week to extend a current pay freeze for federal employees — and freeze salaries for members of Congress. The military is not included in the pay freeze.
“At a time when the American taxpayer isn’t getting a pay increase, it doesn’t make sense for them to pay for a pay increase for federal workers,” Duffy told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Wednesday. But wait a minute, Mitchell said, what about that town hall?
Duffy insisted his worry over making ends meet was in reference to the time after he resigned as Ashland County District Attorney and before he got on the congressional payroll. “I went seven months without a paycheck,” he said. “I have six kids and a wife. That time was difficult.”
But the video of Duffy went viral, and whether or not he was referring to a seven-month stint without a paycheck, the line that sticks is that $174,000 wasn’t enough for a tea party Republican to get by on. Duffy blamed “partisan politics” for the kerfuffle.”By no means do I struggle on $174,000 a year,” he said. “This was just a political move to make it sound like I was talking about my congressional salary, when really I was talking about a really difficult time of not having money coming in.”
The House is expected to consider Duffy’s bill Wednesday evening. Duffy defends the legislation with figures from the Congressional Budget Office that show federal workers, when benefits are included, make 16 percent more than their counterparts in the private sector. The White House and federal labor unions oppose the measure, the Washington Post reports. The White House is seeking a 0.5 percent pay increase for federal workers as part of its 2013 budget proposal. Duffy’s office did not respond to TPM’s request for comment.
Watch the interview with Duffy below:
David Taintor is TPM’s News Editor. He contributes to TPM’s Livewire coverage, among other areas. David is from Chanhassen, Minnesota, where, yes, it gets very cold. Reach him at taintor [at] talkingpointsmemo.com