Democratic and Republican congressional leaders are quietly considering the possibility of some kind of catch-up pay raise this October for thousands of federal executives now frozen at the $50,000 level. The pay raise, if it comes, would probably exclude members of Congress.
Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), the Senate's assisant majority leader, recently told members of the Senior Executive Association it is likely the Senate will approve an executive raise this session.Stevens is a key member of the Govermental Affairs Committee. Many Republicans -- who now control the Senate -- follow his lead on matters pertaining to the bureaucracy.
SEA President G. Jerry Shaw has talked with House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill (D-Mass.) and says O'Neill is sympathetic to the plan to break the link between congressional pay and salaries for top executive branch aides. The effect of that link is to deny top federal officials pay raises unless members of Congress also get an increase. For political and economic reasons, members of Congress dislike voting themselves pay raises, preferring instead to increase office perks and benefits that are less visible to the public.
Federal executives -- the vast majority of whom live and work in the Washington area -- have missed out on pay raises, totaling 16.8 percent, that went to their subordinates. President Reagan has projected a 4.8 percent raise this October for federal white-collar workers. Congress has deferred until Sept. 30 -- the last day of this fiscal year -- any action on giving executives all or part of the 16.8 percent due them.
If the Senate GOP leadership and Democrats who control the House agree to break the congressional executive branch pay link, there is a good chance top federal officials will get some kind of raise this year. And that would set the stage for later action on boosting members of Congress separately so that they could continue to be paid substantially more than unelected bureaucrats.