STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.
Are Democrats in Congress trying to push through a $25 million overall raise for themselves as part of the $2.2 trillion COVID-19 and economic stimulus package? No, that is false. Congressional members and leaders of both parties - as well as both chambers - did write that amount into different versions of bills to pay for telecommunications, remote working, policing and other operations during the pandemic - but not for themselves.
The claim surfaced in an article (archived here) published by Being Texan on March 25, 2020, titled "CONGRESS WANTS A RAISE AS PART OF CORONAVIRUS BILL" which opened:
Nancy Pelosi has added a $25,000,000 raise for Congress in the Coronavirus Bill.
This adds up to $46,728.97 per year for each of the 435 members of the House of Representatives and the 100 members of the Senate. Non-leadership members of Congress currently earn $172,000. This boondoggle will raise their pay to approximately $218,000 depending on how the raises are appropriated.
Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:
CONGRESS WANTS A RAISE AS PART OF CORONAVIRUS BILL
Nancy Pelosi has added a $25,000,000 raise for Congress in the Coronavirus Bill. This adds up to $46,728.97 per year for each of the 435 members of the House of Representatives and the 100 members of the Senate. Non-leadership members of Congress currently earn $172,000. This boondoggle will rai
Insane? Maybe. True? Not at all. Democrats in Congress, led by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, did no such thing.
Instead, the $25 million added to the package - again, being worked on by both parties in the House and the Senate - is meant to pay Congressional staffers and for other functions deemed vital during this time of national and global crisis that has most Americans working remotely.
The stimulus package is meant to boost the economy, which has spiraled since the coronavirus took hold in the U.S., and to help people pushed out of work by the global pandemic and national emergency - or for those needing help getting by during the crisis.
The story, debunked March 25, 2020, by FactCheck.org, completely misrepresents the bill, even though the article by Being Texan links to the exact bill it misread. According to Roll Call, the bill includes $93 million in cash payments. Roll Call described the breakdown this way:
Legislative Branch agencies would get a $93.1 million infusion of cash through the emergency economic relief bill to mitigate the novel coronavirus, including millions to both help offices shift to working remotely and to sanitize the Capitol complex.
The funds are included in the nearly $2 trillion package agreed to early Wednesday by Senate leaders and the White House. For the Legislative Branch portion of the bill, the Senate is slated to get $10 million -- $1 million of those funds would be sent to the sergeant-at-arms to cover teleworking costs for committees and offices. The rest is expected to be allocated to covering costs associated with emergency coronavirus-related needs, including the authority to reimburse costs for workers at the Senate Employees Child Care Center.
Note the section on House payments in the Roll Call story (emphasis added):
The House would get $25 million to fund the chamber's remote work and to purchase supplies for employees to make working from home more efficient. Money is also available to pay restaurant workers and vendors for food and service contracts and for employees and costs associated with the House Child Care Center.
The rest of the $93.1 million would be split as follows, according to Roll Call:
The Architect of the Capitol will receive $25 million to, in part, buy cleaning supplies in bulk and distribute them and to fund service contracts, especially to make payments to its contractors if the pandemic prevents them from working, either because of furloughs or lack of access to the Capitol.
Capitol Police would get $12 million to maintain staffing levels to protect and secure the Capitol grounds. This amount also includes funding to cover remote working and contract support for a reduced workforce on the ground.
The Government Accountability Office would get $20 million to conduct oversight of funding for the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic. This amount also will go toward salaries and reimbursing staff costs at the GAO's child care center.
The Library of Congress would get $700,000 to reimburse child care staff, and the Office of the Attending Physician would get $400,000 to support its purchasing of medical supplies and personal protective equipment.
2020-03-26T23:43:46Z 2020-03-26T23:43:46ZUpdate 7pET Thursday, March 26, 2020: adding quote from House Appropriations Committee Spokesman