Cutting Congressional Pay

Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.) has introduced legislation to cut congressional pay by 5 percent starting January 2011. It would be the first pay cut for Congress since 1933.

Kirkpatrick’s Taking Responsibility for Congressional Pay Act is an effort “to make Members of Congress show a personal commitment to cutting federal spending,” according to her press office.

“Families across the country are getting by on lower wages and finding ways to cut back during the downturn, and these are the folks that pay our salaries,” Kirkpatrick says. “The federal government’s budget is in much worse shape, so why shouldn’t senators and representatives have to feel the same pinch?”

The bill also blocks automatic pay increases for Congress.

“Congress must lead by example to restore fiscal discipline in Washington,” she said. “Members need to get serious about cutting waste and finding savings, and lowering our pay instead of giving ourselves a raise is a commonsense place to start.”

The bill has 25 cosponsors. Find out more at http://kirkpatrick.house.gov/.

21st Century Training

The Army is updating its basic training to reflect the demands of today’s urban battlefields. “Heeding the advice of Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans, commanders are dropping five-mile runs and bayonet drills in favor of zigzag sprints and exercises that hone core muscles,” AP reports.

In what is being called the first overhaul of Army basic-fitness training since 1980, the branch is directing training installations at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., Fort Sill, Okla., Fort Benning, Ga., and Fort Knox, Ky., to increase calisthenics training that builds “core body power, strength and agility.”

Pointing to the phase-out of bayonet training, Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling of the Training and Doctrine Command says the Army aims to “make the training relevant to the conditions on the modern battlefield.”

Self-Inflicted Wounds

The United States is preparing a human-rights report on itself. That’s right: for the first time ever the State Department will develop a human rights report on the U.S., hand it over to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), and “submit itself to a process in which America’s record might be judged by some of the world’s worst human rights abusers,” Foreign Policy magazine reports. 

The Bush administration did not participate in the HRC, largely because it is filled with serial abusers of human rights. Current members include Castro’s Cuba, Egypt, China, Ortega’s Nicaragua, Putin’s Russia and Saudi Arabia.

“We want to lead by example,” said Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner, defending the U.S. decision to genuflect to the HRC review process. The review process requires nations to conduct an internal review, compile a report, submit the report to a randomly selected panel of HRC members, and then withstand the critique.

In the case of the U.S., any such criticism will be magnified and used to justify human rights failures in countries such as Burma and Iran, according to Kristen Silverberg, an assistant secretary of state from 2005-2008.

As a contributing editor to The American Legion Magazine, Dowd writes columns and news briefs on national security, foreign affairs and U.S. politics each month for the magazine's "Rapid Fire" section.