For Immediate Release:                                                         For More Information Contact:
Tuesday, September 23, 1997                                                Gary Ruskin (202) 296-2787

Statement of Ralph Nader Regarding Proposed Congressional Pay Raise

We gather today to stop some greedy members of Congress from lining their pockets with yet another congressional pay raise. Last Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the Treasury-Postal appropriations bill which included a $3,072.80 pay raise for Members of Congress.

The House approved the pay raise in a particularly disgraceful way: there was no vote to strip the pay grab from the appropriations bill. House leadership should immediately schedule a vote for Rep. Linda Smith's amendment to remove the congressional pay raise from the Treasury-Postal appropriations bill.

Members of Congress already earn a princely annual salary of $133,600, plus generous pensions, perks, and benefits. Top leadership earns more. For example, Speaker Newt Gingrich earns $171,500 per year.

Congress has been in the midst of passing numerous cutbacks in regulatory safety, access to justice, and social service programs. Boosting congressional salaries while making these cutbacks is a hypocritical and avaricious exercise.

Another problem with these pay raises is that they lift members of Congress into the upper reaches of the economic stratosphere, while most Americans toil in the economic reality here on earth. And so Members of Congress easily forget about the routine economic problems of most Americans, and pass legislation that benefits corporate and wealthy elites. Taxpayer-funded corporate welfare continues to receive ever more congressional largesse.

Ironically, the idea for this year's congressional pay grab was apparently first circulated at the bipartisan retreat at Hershey, Pennsylvania intended to promote "civility" in the Congress. But there's nothing civil about Members of Congress who wish to fatten their wallets with taxpayer dollars.

We are here to alert the American people to efforts by Speaker Gingrich, Minority Leader Gephardt, and others to wheedle a pay raise for Members of Congress. We strongly encourage citizens to call their Members of Congress and tell them to oppose the proposed congressional pay raise. The congressional switchboard phone is (202) 224-3121.

Tell your Members of Congress to cut -- not raise -- their salaries, so that they might restore their moral authority to govern.