NATIONAL TAXPAYER WATCHDOG GROUP CONDEMNS CONGRESSIONAL PAY INCREASE

Embargoed for Release  Contact:  Jim Campi
September 23, 1997 (202) 467-5300

 

(Washington, D.C.) – At a Capitol Hill news conference today, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) joined several other public policy organizations to condemn the congressional pay increase included in the House version of the Treasury-Postal Appropriations Act (H.R. 2378).  The spending bill contains a provision that gives members of Congress a $3,072 cost of living increase.

“What has Congress done that deserves a raise?” asked CCAGW President Thomas A. Schatz.  “Until members of Congress prove to the American people that they can handle public money responsibly – without tremendous waste – there is no reason to give them even a dime more.”

As part of the Ethics Reform Act of 1989, Congress voted itself annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLA), similar to those given to federal employees. Since 1993, deficit hawks in the House and Senate have foiled attempts to increase congressional pay by adding amendments to the Treasury-Postal Appropriations bill eliminating each year’s COLA.  This year, House leaders from both parties conspired to take the COLA opponents by surprise, bringing the bill to the floor so quickly that an amendment rejecting the increase could not be offered.

“If members of Congress had truly earned a pay increase,” stated Schatz, “why wasn’t the bill offered out in the open, with enough time for meaningful debate?”

Since 1987, House members have voted themselves five pay raises, while their Senate colleagues have voted themselves six.  During that time, congressional salaries have increased from $77,400 per year to the present $133,600 per year – a 58 percent increase.  In addition, members of Congress also get cars, furniture, staff, and generous pensions – all courtesy of the taxpayers.

“Of course, many members of Congress claim that their service is a sacrifice, and that they could make a lot more elsewhere,” Schatz remarked.  “I say let them.  According to a survey conducted last year by Roll Call, all but six of the 73 freshmen elected to Congress in 1994 received a large pay hike.” 

CCAGW is a private, non-partisan lobbying organization dedicated to enacting legislation to eliminate waste, inefficiency, and mismanagement in the federal government. 

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