Former state Rep. Carl Domino wants to “Fix Congress First,” but he has an unusual way to go about it.
The Jupiter Republican, who is seeking to replace Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy in Florida’s 18th Congressional District, announced a plan to reform Congress and “put Washington back to work for the people.”
Domino’s proposal starts with establishing an eight-year term limit for those serving in the U.S. House, followed by setting a House member’s annual salary at the median pay for the district they serve.
The plan may sound like a good idea, but upon closer inspection there are serious flaws, says Calvin Turnquest, least of which is a profound ignorance of “the basic tenets of labor law.”
Turnquest is Domino’s Republican Party opponent in the Aug. 26 GOP primary.
Examined in the light of labor and constitutional law, the plan quickly falls apart.
Turnquest sees that as particularly troublesome, especially since Domino is a recent graduate from the law school at Nova Southeastern Shepard Broad Law Center, located in Davie.
“It’s about time Congress lived under the same laws it passes and expects the rest of us Americans to live under,” Domino says.
In reality, the U.S. does not legislate the incomes of every citizen, at amounts consistent with their neighbors – something governed by market forces, not Congress. That basic fact makes it difficult to see how Domino considers congressional pay to fall within any law that “all Americans live under.”
The median household income for District 18 – the salary that Domino would receive under his plan if elected to Congress– is only $50,368.00.
That also means CD 18’s U.S. Representative would be higher than the salaries of 251 of his or her colleagues, and higher than most districts represented by women and/or minority House members.
Another consequence of enacting Domino’s plan — he could have many of his colleagues working for less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
In the 2013 Congressional Management Foundation study, Congress members work an average of 59 hours a week while in his or her district, and 70 hours when in Washington.
Domino’s proposed salary for House members, set at the median level of his or her district, means that many could be working for well below minimum wage.
“While I appreciate that Carl recognizes the need for reform in Washington, DC, Turnquest said in a statement, “we simply disagree that inequitably compensating women and minority Congressional Representatives is the way to go about it.”
“Congressional disapproval is at an all-time low,” he adds, “but Carl’s proposal would only serve to weaken the representation of the Americans who need it the most.”