(D-Md.) who represents as many federal workers as anyone in Congress, believes it is unfair to hold government pay down for political reasons. And she doesn't like the idea of a president saying in January that he expects to put another lid on government wages.

It was Spellman's idea to urge the House Post Office-Civil Service Committee to recommend that the House Budget Committee set aside funds for a higher possible pay raise. It did, in a 12-to-10 vote.

That could happen in two ways. President Carter could accept the "comparability" pay raise figure that will be determined by mid-summer based on a survey of industry wages. It obviously would be in the 8 percent to 10 percent range, maybe even more if past "catch-ups" were included.

Or the president, as expected, could admit that comparability will not be achieved this year and will order the 5.5 percent maximum raise.In that case Congress could overturn his lower figure and order the higher amount, but Congress isn't likely to do that.

On the off chance that the economic picture improves, or that Congress does override the president and call for a higher pay raise, Spellman wants to be sure the extra $3 billion needed to finance it is in the government kitty when the time comes. It is a long shot, but it would be even longer if the money wasn't available.