Congressional Accountability Project
1611 Connecticut Ave. NW Suite 3A
Washington, DC 20009
fax (202) 833-2406
July 11, 1997
Honorable Richard Gephardt
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
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