Heck challenger Bilbray calls for congressional pay cut until budget is balanced

Newly announced House candidate Erin Bilbray proposed Wednesday that lawmakers take a 10 percent pay cut until the federal budget is balanced.

Bilbray, a Las Vegas political trainer and nonprofit consultant, said in a radio interview that Congress should have its salary chopped “like most of America really has during this recession.”

“We all need to do our due diligence, and this is part of it,” the Democrat said during an appearance on “State of Nevada” on KNPR-radio, FM 88.9.

The pay cut would amount to $17,400 for rank-and-file senators and House members. The salary of Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader would fall by $19,340.

The plan is reminiscent of legislation by Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., that would withhold congressional pay if lawmakers miss deadlines to pass budgets or spending bills.

The proposal is Bilbray’s opening bid to unseat two-term Republican Rep. Joe Heck in the Las Vegas suburbs that encompass the 3rd Congressional District. The election is in November 2014.

Bilbray, who announced her candidacy Monday, said she chose to run for Congress after observing that “people in Washington were not concerned about the middle class.”

“Right now what we are seeing is partisan theatrics going on on Capitol Hill, and people are really tired of that,” she said.

During the interview, Bilbray took Democratic positions in favor of comprehensive immigration reform that includes opportunities at citizenship for undocumented residents.

Bilbray said she would not vote to raise taxes on the middle class but would support making millionaires and corporations “pony up their fair share.”

Bilbray said she believed “it is an absolute right for people to be able to attend college” and obtain affordable student loans.

In response to a caller, Bilbray acknowledged her home near Buffalo Drive and Desert Inn Road was redistricted last year “by a mile” out of the congressional district she seeks to represent, but she retains strong ties to it.

“I didn’t jump the border; the border jumped me,” she said. “This is the community I was born and raised in.”

Bilbray, 44, represents Nevada Democrats on the party’s national committee. She founded and until recently was executive director of Emerge Nevada, which trains women to run for public office. While she is running for office, she is a part-time consultant for the organization.

Bilbray is married to Las Vegas pediatrician Noah Kohn, and they have two preteen daughters.

She is campaigning under her maiden name, recognizable as the daughter of former Rep. James Bilbray, who represented Nevada from 1987 until 1995.

Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at stetreault@stephensmedia.com or 202-783-1760. Follow him on Twitter @STetreaultDC.