For Immediate Release: Wednesday, July 26, 2000
For More Information Contact: Gary Ruskin (202) 296-2787

Groups Urge Senate to Reject Congressional Pay Raise

Opponents of the proposed $3,800 congressional pay raise sent letters today to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and House Minority Leader Tom Daschle asking them to turn down the pay raise. The letter follows.

Dear Majority Leader Lott and Minority Leader Daschle:

We urge you to reject the proposed $3,800 congressional pay raise, which would lift the base congressional salary to $145,100 per year.

Members of Congress neither deserve nor need this raise. They are already overpaid, enjoying a lavish $141,300 base annual salary, plus pensions, benefits, perquisites, a special $3,000 annual tax deduction, as well as loopholes to facilitate junketeering and some personal use of campaign funds. This is more than enough to provide a high-flying lifestyle that befits princes more than public servants.

Over the last decade, Members of Congress have been quick to give themselves pay hike after pay hike. Since the infamous 1989 midnight congressional paygrab, House Members have received six raises, Senators seven. Congressional salaries grew by $51,800 -- about $17,000 above inflation. In 1989, the base congressional salary was $89,500 per year.

Such profiteering from the public purse is especially grating when our federal government is deep in debt. Given the enormous $5.7 trillion burden of federal debt, Members of Congress should lead by example, and decline to further overcompensate themselves.

This effort at self-enrichment is waste of taxpayer dollars, an insult to the taxpayers, and a violation of the public trust. It detracts from the dignity of Congress, as well as its moral authority to govern.

Perhaps no congressional act is more unpopular than a congressional pay raise. Please listen to your constituents: exercise dignified self-restraint, and forgo the pay raise.

Gary Ruskin, Director, Congressional Accountability Project
Paul Jacob, National Director, U.S. Term Limits
Paul Weyrich, President, Free Congress Foundation
Peter J. Sepp, Vice President for Communications, National Taxpayers Union
Jim Mangia, National Secretary, Reform Party of the United States of America
Steve Dasbach, National Director, Libertarian National Committee
Ted Muga, Chairman, American Reform Party