NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, December 5, 2001
For More Information Contact: Gary Ruskin (503) 235-8012 or Pete Sepp (703) 683-5700

Groups Ask Senators to Block Congressional Pay Raise

Opponents of the proposed $4,900 congressional pay raise sent letters today to all U.S. Senators urging them to support an amendment by Senator Russell Feingold (D-WI) to stop the pay raise. The letter follows.

Dear Senator:

Without any public hearings or a single vote in the House or Senate, Members of Congress have contrived to grant themselves a proposed $4,900 pay raise, boosting the base congressional salary to a very generous $150,000 per year, plus health insurance, pension, perks and other benefits.

We urge you to stop this raise; there is no need for it.

At present, Members of Congress are lavishly compensated with a princely salary and emoluments that are multiples more than the median individual income. In recent years, Members of Congress have kept their salaries well ahead of inflation. In 1989, the base congressional salary was $89,500. Since then, senators have given themselves eight pay raises. The current base congressional salary is more than $13,000 above 1989 levels, adjusted for inflation. There is no lack of top-quality candidates willing to serve in Congress for the current salary.

Members of Congress are wrong to hike their salaries while our nation's economy is deteriorating. Our country is now in recession, unemployment is rising, and our federal government's fiscal status has dramatically worsened. The federal budget deficit may rise to $50 billion next year, on top of the $5.8 trillion federal debt. Last week, the White House Budget Director predicted that the federal government would be mired in deficits until at least fiscal year 2005.

This proposed pay raise offends against the plain meaning of the 27th Amendment, which states that "No law varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives shall take effect until an election of Representatives shall have intervened."

Our country may yet face more hardships and tragedies like those of September 11. During this time of trial, our country needs its Members of Congress to preserve and strengthen their moral authority to govern -- not squander it on an effort most taxpayers would find objectionable even in ordinary times.

This week, Sen. Russ Feingold will likely offer an amendment to block the proposed $4,900 congressional pay grab. This amendment is a test of Congress's willingness to lead by example. We ask you to ensure that this amendment receives a vote, and to support it.

Sincerely,

Ralph Nader
Gary Ruskin, Director, Congressional Accountability Project
Pete Sepp, Vice President for Communications, National Taxpayers Union
Paul M. Weyrich, CEO and Founder, Free Congress Foundation
Joe Theissen, Executive Director, Taxpayers for Common Sense
Thomas A. Schatz, President, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
Stacie Rumenap, Executive Director, U.S. Term Limits
Gerald Moan, Chairman, Reform Party of the USA
Steve Dasbach, Executive Director, Libertarian Party
David Repko, Chair, pro tem, National Committee of The American Reform Party

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