Congressional Accountability Project

1611 Connecticut Ave. NW Suite 3A

Washington, DC 20009

(202) 296-2787

fax (202) 833-2406

July 11, 1997

Honorable Richard Gephardt

Minority Leader

The Capitol, H-204

U. S. House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515

Dear Minority Leader Gephardt:

At a press briefing yesterday, you said that House leaders are considering a pay raise for members of Congress. We strongly urge you to reject any such raise. Members of Congress are regally compensated with an annual salary of $133,600 per year, plus perks, pensions and other benefits. There is no need for further increase.

The Democratic Party is supposed to be the party of the working people. Working people do not want members of Congress so lavishly compensated that they grow amnesiac regarding the economic trials and indignities of ordinary Americans. A November 1995 poll conducted by Maricopa Research found that 95 percent of Americans want members of Congress to cut -- not increase -- their salaries. Working people do not want a Congress that hovers blissfully in a state of economic liftoff while working people remain stuck in an economic quagmire.

Just over ten years ago, in January 1987, members of Congress were paid $77,400 per year. Since then, members of Congress have voted themselves a real salary increase of $22,000 above inflation, in 1997 dollars. House members have enjoyed five pay raises, and senators six since then.

Compare that to other Americans. Adjusted for inflation, the median male income for full-time year-round workers was higher in 1969 than it was in 1995. For women, median full-time year-round income was higher in 1986 than it was in 1995. You know all this.

Don't forsake your party base and your constituents, just to line your own pocket, and those of your colleagues. Reject this Congressional Pay Grab, before an aroused public does it for you.


Gary Ruskin Ralph Nader