Guest Post: Why I Won’t Accept A Congressional Pension

There are leaders in Washington, leaders who stand on principle. Their efforts to change the culture in Washington are ridiculed by liberals and by many Republicans, but they charge ahead.

Conservatives in North Dakota agree on most of the main issues in this election such as, cutting spending, repealing Obamacare and reining in the rogue regulators. Each of the six Republican candidates has talked about these issues. The challenge for the delegates is finding the candidate that will actually do it. You can take the politicians at their word – or you can look at their records and take a look at my record.

I have a record of standing in the breach against the expansion of government; I have a history of saying “NO” in Bismarck; and I have a history of voting to slash our pension debt to protect the future for our children and grandchildren. The other candidates cannot say the same.

I have pledged that I will not accept a Congressional pension if I become your member of Congress. My pledge has been labeled as meaningless or as a gimmick by other Republicans. They are wrong. I am on a mission to change the culture in Washington and refusing to spend taxpayer’s money on things we do not need is no gimmick. In fact, several of the conservative House members elected in 2010 have made similar pledges. I will stand with them.

This is about regaining the trust of the American people. People need to know that if they send me 1,300 miles away to vote on what we spend and how we spend, that I will always remember that it is their money and not the government’s money. I have put my foot down in Bismarck in the past and stood strong against the big-government officials at the state level and challenged the system. I did it here in North Dakota, I will do it in Washington, DC – I guarantee that!

We can win this fight. The culture in Washington must change or the country we leave our children will not be America. Congress must not only share in that sacrifice, Congress must lead.

I look forward to earning your support.

Rep. Bette Grande represents District 41 in North Dakota’s legislature. She’s also a candidate for the NDGOP nomination for US House.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

Related posts

  • Rick Olson

    Bette Grande, God bless her, really seems serious about wanting to be our next member of Congress.  Provided she gets elected and, depending upon whether or not the Republicans matain a majority in the House, I can only assume the pledge above will wind up being meaningless tripe.  And that coming from someone who thinks of himself as as conservative of a Republican there is.  The first day she shows up on Capitol Hill, she’ll be met by Speaker Boehner who will tell her under no uncertain terms, “You vote the way I tell you and we’ll get along just fine…however, young lady, if you ever dare to vote against me…I’ll have you assigned to as insignificant of a committee as we’ve got around here.  Do I make myself clear?”

    • Ndconservative2011

      I really appreciate your being so close to Speaker Boehner that you consider yourself his spoksperson concerning Bette Grande and the way she will be commanded to vote if she is elected.  It is really great that we North Dakotan’s have this inside track into Washington politics.
      Now that you have established your status as in insider, please inform us as to what will be the Speaker’s agenda between now and the election.

      • Rick Olson

        I assure you that I posted the above comment purely tongue-in-cheek wise.  It’s just that anyone who knows anything about how Congress works knows how the members must toe the line of their respective party’s leadership.  This is exactly why nothing gets done in Congress. Everything gets so screwed up by partisan politics…this “my way or the highway” crap, it’s a wonder anything gets done out there!

        I live in North Dakota just like most of the rest of you do.  I have never met John Boehner in my life.  Heck, I have never even set foot in the U.S. Capitol before.  Been to Washington, D.C. before, but never got to the Capitol. 

        So, to answer your question, I have absolutely no idea what the Speaker’s agenda is between now and the election.  Thank you for playing.

        • Camsaure

          So, why in the hell should we send more of the same then? People with morals and standards should be supported, not ridiculed.

    • Camsaure

      Obviously you support business as usual and have a very low regard for standards and morals. I am sure glad you are not in Washington. The more people sent to Washington WITH morals and standards the better off we are as a country. We may even be able to replace your hero the RINO Boehner

      • Rick Olson

        Camasure, I couldn’t agree with you more.  You obviously misinterpreted my post about Bette Grande.  I absolutely agree that our country needs to send more people to Washington WITH morals and good ethical standards. 

        Believe me, I am no fan of John Boehner’s, either.  I do not like his “It’s my way or the highway” attitude. As we saw during the government default crisis, Boehner was more than willing to let the government default, just to advance his own agenda. 

        • Camsaure

          Please accept my apolagies, I obviously misunderstood your post.

          • Rick Olson

            Apology accepted. I know how passionate people can be in these threads.  Trust me, as a born again Christian, I totally applaud people who have morals and ethical standards.  It’s not an easy thing to do in this world these days, to be completely accountable, ethical, honorable and moral.

          • $8194357

              (  It’s not an easy thing to do in this world these days, to be completely accountable, ethical, honorable and moral)


  • ec99

    Ms. Grande:

    Time to get another set of campaign advisors.  Your current one believes ND voters are naive. As stated above, if you do go to DC it will corrupt you, you won’t clean up it.  We all remember Paul Wellstone’s promise to stay for two terms and then leave.  Well, it only happened because God didn’t want him to be a liar.

    • Hal858

      You could say that about anyone who runs for public office.  At least Ms. Grande realizes that there is a problem in Washington, DC and has offered something. 

      You are critical of Ms. Grande but I haven’t seen you post anything critical of the Democrat or Republicans who have refused to even debate.  Why not?

    • Matt Evans

      Congressman Paul has spent a fair bit of time in DC.  It has not corrupted him one iota. 

      There may not be many people with unbreachable integrity in DC. But there is at least one.  Our job is to see if we can find some more, and if so, send them to work!

  • $8194357

    Article 28 was suppose to keep them from voting themselves into “elitist rulers” with all those perks in the first place but they just keep ignoring that old out dated document now don’t they..
    Under 28 “protected class status” citizenship would be unconstituional as well IMO..

  • borborygmi

    It is a nice post but since you are preaching to the choir, a vocal minority for sure, I am not sure how this is going to further your campaign..  If elected how long do you plan to stay in DC.  One of the main complaints on this board of politicians is they become entrenched in DC which brings along calls for term limits. I haven’t seen any tea party candidate say they are going for 2 or 3 or 4 terms and then get out.

    • Ryan


      If you would have attended or watched the tea party debate you would have heard nearly all candidates state a term of 12 years is plenty in the house.

      • borborygmi

        8 or 10 would be better but hey at least there is a mark..  Would they follow through? Would the Tea Party Faithful have the will to vote them out especially if the Tea Party was getting what it wanted.

        • Matt Evans

          Advocating for binding term limits doesn’t mean one should step aside after they’ve served a certain number of terms. 

          If we assume that people with integrity will voluntarily abide by non-binding term limits, what sort of people will remain in DC?  The people with no integrity and no intention of relinquishing power.

          Term limits are a poor solution to a real problem: how do we keep people from building personal empires in DC?  How do we keep them accountable to the voters?  These are the problems — but Term Limits don’t necessarily solve them.

          Kicking everyone out — good or bad — after a certain amount of time is a poor solution.   We should quickly fire the bad performers, and we should try to entice the good ones to stay as long as possible.

          • borborygmi

            Actually I am advocating for voluntary term limits.  The Tea Party’s candidates ran against incumbent Congressmen that in their view were entrenched.   Will those Tea Party representatives voluntarily step down and if so when? 
            Ryan states that if has been ‘fixed’ at 6 terms. If the Congressmen opt for the 7th term would the Tea Party have the will to vote them out.   You always hear throw the bum out but it is always someone elses bum.

  • Ed Darrell

    Exactly how do you propose to reject the pension, Ms. Grande?   I’m interested because it’s not like Social Security, where you could stay anonymous and never apply for benefits.  The pension accrues automatically, and the payout starts automatically.  Your pledge today is worth zero in two years when you lose the re-election campaign. 

    What legal device do you propose to use to keep this so-called promise? 

    You could also pledge to breathe only polluted air in order to filter pollution out for others.  It would be about as valuable a promise.

    • Hal858

      “Exactly how do you propose to reject the pension”
      You simply don’t file your retirement paperwork, edarrell.  You are an ignorant, petty person who appears to need a legal device to enforce your word since you word is no good.

      • Ed Darrell

        How does failing to file paper to collect a pension benefit anyone?  As a practical matter, the agency has a fiduciary duty to prepare to pay the pension.  Failing to file papers to collect not only does not change that legal duty, but magnifies the responsibility of the agency to be sure the money is available if papers are ever filed.

        But second, my point is that Congressional pensions pay out automatically.  No paper filing required.

        How you make a judgment on my intellect and the heft of my personal concerns, not to mention any your bizarre claim I should be restrained, would be a study in itself.

  • Rick Olson

    You may have read that Members of Congress do not pay into Social Security. Well, that’s a myth.

    Prior to 1984, neither Members of Congress nor any other federal civil service employee paid Social Security taxes. Of course, they were also not eligible to receive Social Security benefits. Members of Congress and other federal employees were instead covered by a separate pension plan called the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS).

    The 1983 amendments to the Social Security Act required federal employees first hired after 1983 to participate in Social Security. These amendments also required all Members of Congress to participate in Social Security as of January 1, 1984, regardless of when they first entered Congress. Because the CSRS was not designed to coordinate with Social Security, Congress directed the development of a new retirement plan for federal workers. The result was the Federal Employees’ Retirement System Act of 1986.

    Members of Congress receive retirement and health benefits under the same plans available to other federal employees. They become vested after five years of full participation.

    Members elected since 1984 are covered by the Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS). Those elected prior to 1984 were covered by the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). In 1984 all members were given the option of remaining with CSRS or switching to FERS.

    As it is for all other federal employees, congressional retirement is funded through taxes and the participants’ contributions. Members of Congress under FERS contribute 1.3 percent of their salary into the FERS retirement plan and pay 6.2 percent of their salary in Social Security taxes.

    Members of Congress are not eligible for a pension until they reach the age of 50, but only if they’ve completed 20 years of service. Members are eligible at any age after completing 25 years of service or after they reach the age of 62. Please also note that Members of Congress have to serve at least 5 years to even receive a pension.

    The amount of a congressperson’s pension depends on the years of service and the average of the highest 3 years of his or her salary. By law, the starting amount of a Member’s retirement annuity may not exceed 80% of his or her final salary.

    According to the Congressional Research Service, 413 retired Members of Congress were receiving federal pensions based fully or in part on their congressional service as of Oct. 1, 2006. Of this number, 290 had retired under CSRS and were receiving an average annual pension of $60,972. A total of 123 Members had retired with service under both CSRS and FERS or with service under FERS only. Their average annual pension was $35,952 in 2006.

    • JackButler

      Thanks Rick, for explaining this.  I’ve always known that Senators and Congressmen had the same exact benefits as federal workers.  The old CSRS system had them not paying into Social Security.  Health Benefits are the same too.  Federal workers have a pool of insurance companies to do business that is respective to that locality.  It is not some “special” club only members of congress can belong to.

      If you want to get “mad” at somebody not paying into SS, try looking at railroads who have their own pension system.

  • Jamermorrow

    The only thing that will stop government is forced austerity by our creditors. I have little faith in politicians. 

    • Hal858

      We have little faith in a self described anarchist who lives off the government teat. 

  • Sparkie Arbuckle

    If this is really about regaining trust, you should consider posting your piece to a different blog where they don’t publish at least five lies a day on the front page.

    • borborygmi

      Now Sparkie don’t be so hard.  They aren’t lies they are embellishments or hyperbole.