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66 in Congress Will Not Accept Pay Raise, Nader Survey Shows

April 01, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A survey released Tuesday said at least 66 members of Congress report that they will not accept the $12,100 annual pay raise that makes its first appearance in paychecks being issued today.

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader released the survey showing that 12 senators and 56 House members would donate the money to charity or return it to the U.S. Treasury. However, two of the House members on the list, citing miscommunication between their staffs and the Nader group, later said they would take the increase.

"It's fitting that the first installment of this backhanded salary grab appears in congressional paychecks on April Fool's Day," Nader said. "Congress intentionally tried to fool the American taxpayer when it sidestepped the voting process to pocket this pay hike through the back door."

Although appearing to vote against the pay raise, the House in February allowed congressional salaries to rise automatically from $77,400 to $89,500 a year. The raise actually began accumulating March 1, and the first of it--an extra $1,000, approximately--appears in paychecks today.

All Members Surveyed

A Nader group called Stop the Salary Grab surveyed all members of Congress, initially by mail with a telephone follow-up, to see who would refuse the pay raise.

The group said that as of last Friday--before the two House members removed themselves from the list--68 said they would refuse it, 100 either would not disclose their decision or said they had not decided and the remaining members said they would accept it.

"We suspect the survey may spur some others" to give the pay raise to charity or back to the Treasury, given the political pressures from constituents, Nader spokesman Craig McDonald said.

Of the 66 who now say they would turn it down, 28 are Republicans and 38 are Democrats. Only two members of the House or Senate leadership--Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) and Senate Assistant Minority Leader Alan K. Simpson (R-Wyo.)--refused the money, the group said.

The only Californian on the list, Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R--Garden Grove), directed that his raise be held in escrow, the Nader group reported.

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