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Senate Clears Obstacles to Its Annual Pay Increase

November 14, 2002|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Senate on Wednesday voted to give itself its annual pay raise, the fourth time lawmakers' salaries have risen in the last four years.

The Senate, without debate, voted, 58 to 36, to reject a measure by Sen. Russell D. Feingold (D-Wis.) that would have denied the congressional pay raise.

With the slumping economy and financial markets, job layoffs and federal budget deficits, "this is the wrong time for Congress to give itself a pay hike," Feingold said in a statement.

The House cleared the way for the raise in July.

With the 3.1% pay raise, senators and representatives will make $154,700 next year instead of the $150,000 they made this year. Lawmakers' salaries have gone up $18,000 since 1999.

Under a 1989 law, congressional pay raises, determined by a complicated formula that includes a measure of private industry employment costs, go into effect automatically unless lawmakers vote to block them.

The pay raise, which will go into effect in January, will also apply to more than 1,000 top executive branch officials, including the vice president and members of the congressional leadership.

The president's salary of $400,000 a year is unaffected by the congressional increase.

The first members of Congress received $6 a day.

In 1855, compensation was set at $3,000 a year. It hit $10,000 in 1935, $60,000 in 1979, and went above $100,000 in 1991. The pay level stalled at $133,600 during the mid-1990s, with lawmakers wary of giving themselves a raise when the federal budget was in deficit, but it has risen steadily since then.

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