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Lawmakers Consider Giving Themselves A Raise

Senate has already blocked an increase, but the House may approve first hike since 1992

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Sep. 15) -- Members of Congress are pushing a new "don't ask, don't tell" approach to a deeply sensitive issue: whether to give themselves a pay raise.

The last time Capitol Hill lawmakers got a pay hike was 1992, when salaries were upped to $133,600. Republican and Democratic House leaders are looking at ways to quietly shepherd a 2.8 percent cost-of-living hike into law, which would translate to about $3,740.

Members of Congress are legally entitled to cost-of-living increases, tied to the amount requested by the president for federal workers. Last January, President Bill Clinton asked for a 2.8 percent increase.

Senators have already approved an amendment that exempts members of Congress from the raise, but it's still pending in the House, which is scheduled to vote on the Treasury bill this week or next. Congressional sources say leaders are considering rules that would prevent House members from offering amendments to block a raise.

In past years, Democrats pushed for raises, saying, "You get what you pay for," while Republicans protested the increases. That may have changed.

"We will witness the decline in the value of the Congress to the American society if we don't have the guts to stand up to the demagogue and tell them the pay for the Congress ought to be sufficient to attract the most capable people in our society," Republican Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska declared in July at the time of the Senate vote.

But Democratic Sen. Paul Wellstone of Minnesota countered, "Don't tell me that the reason people don't run for office, that young people aren't interested in public life, is because they now are finding out they are only going to make $133,000 a year. I think that's ridiculous."

Meanwhile, Capitol Hill leaders reportedly favor repealing or relaxing key congressional reforms enacted with great fanfare only about two years ago, including the ban on gifts. House lawmakers are currently forbidden to accept free meals and gifts above nominal value, while the Senate limits gifts to $50.

In Other News:

Monday Sept. 15, 1997

Weld Quits Nomination Fight
Christian Coalition Meeting Spotlights GOP Contenders
Clinton: Crack Down On Medicare Fraud
IRS To Audit Paula Jones
Lawmakers Consider Giving Themselves A Raise
AllPolitics E-Wire

E-mail From Washington:
Jones' Settlement Talks Set For Tuesday

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