For Immediate Release: Tuesday, October 30, 2001
For More Information Contact: Gary Ruskin (503) 235-8012

Nader Urges Senate Leaders to Block Congressional Pay Raise

Ralph Nader and the Congressional Accountability Project sent letters today to leaders of the U.S. Senate, asking them to reject the proposed $4,900 congressional pay raise.

The letters were sent to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS), Assistant Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and Assistant Minority Leader Don Nickles (R-OK). The letter to Majority Leader Daschle follows.

Dear Majority Leader Daschle:

Once again, it is autumn in Washington, the season that brings falling leaves to the National Mall, and rising greed to the halls of Congress. In their annual spectacle of shamelessness, Members of Congress are joined yet again in an effort to sneak themselves a pay raise, without a recorded vote.

Members of Congress are already overpaid, given median wages in this country, with a base salary of $145,100, plus generous pensions, benefits and other perks. The proposed raise would boost the base congressional salary by $4,900, to $150,000 per year. Consider how long Congress has sat on any increase in the federal minimum wage which, inflation adjusted, is more than $2.00 lower in purchasing power than it was in 1968.

Congressional salaries already are 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.

This proposed pay grab would be wrong if our nation were at peace, but it is especially undignified and tasteless during this time of trial. As young Americans are sent off to war, it is regrettable that Members of Congress would so devote themselves to their own personal enrichment.

Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) is offering an amendment to block the pay raise. That worthy amendment merits a floor vote, and it deserves your support. It would be especially unseemly for the Senate to approve the pay raise without a recorded vote.

Our federal government is currently $5.8 trillion in debt. We cannot and should not afford such a wasteful, needless pay raise with our country so deep in debt. There are looming deficits on the horizon as well.

At this moment, our nation is being tested, and so is our Congress. We all ought to do what we can to meet the challenge. Rejecting the congressional pay raise is a modest step that would make our country proud. It would set an honorable example, and reaffirm Congress's moral authority to govern. Such leadership by example would not be lost either on our citizens or observant persons abroad. Please adopt dignified self-restraint instead of letting your actions deepen a trail of self-seeking.


Ralph Nader
Gary Ruskin, Director