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Don’t Do It! House Leadership Considers Pay Raise and Relaxing Gift Ban

Don’t Do It!!

House leadership considers pay raise and relaxing gift ban

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The good government group Public Citizen blasted House leaders today for contemplating measures that would feather members’ nests even as they ask many of the neediest Americans to make deep sacrifices for the sake of balancing the budget.

A recent story in the Washington Post confirmed that the leadership is considering raising congressional salaries by about $4,000 a year and easing the ban on gifts from lobbyists.

In a letter delivered to all House Members today, Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook urged lawmakers to reject both proposals, which could come to the House floor before the August recess.

Claybrook said the gift ban approved in late 1995 was one of the most important accomplishments of the 104th Congress and has helped restore public confidence in the institution. “The public will not stand for the return of free meals and gifts from lobbyists on the House side, even in a limited way,” Claybrook said.

The pay raise also causes Public Citizen great concern. The median household salary in the United States is $34,076. House members currently earn $133,600 annually, an amount that exceeds the wildest dreams of most Americans.

“A Congress that has failed to enact economic policies to raise the real wages of working Americans, that is preparing to enact tax cuts that will primarily benefit the wealthy, and that has failed to clean up its own house by enacting comprehensive campaign finance reform, should not raise its own pay,” Claybrook told lawmakers.

“Giving yourself a salary increase at this time, combined with weakening the gift ban, will send precisely the wrong message to the American people. Don’t do it!”