Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va.) said yesterday he would support a proposed pay increase from $44,600 a year to $57,500 for members of Congress - if there is a requirement for complete financial disclosure by members and a ban on outside earnings from speaking fees or active participation in businesses.
Byrd, in an interview, said the pay raise, which was recommended by a special federal commission last December, would be justified only if put into effect at the same time as a requirement that all assest, income, sources of income and net worth be disclosed publicly. The current $25,000 limit on bow much a senator is allowed to earn from honoraria for speaking before private groups should be lowered to zero, siad Byrd.
Byrd. in a series of statements on Senate issues, also said:
He won't use his position as majority leader to block legislation he personally doesn't like, but will be guided by the policy committee of Democratic senators and the requests of committee chairmen in determining what should come to the floor.
Attorney General nominee Griffin B. Bell "has some troubles" because of opposition from some civil rights groups, " but if nothing else surfaces" he's likely to be confirmed.
His priorities as leader are approval of President-elect Jimmy Carter's ominees, approval of the Carter economic package, completion of Senate work on Sen. Adlai E. Stevenson's (D-III), plan to reorganize the committee system, which Byrd personally favors, approval of governmental reorganization authority for the new President, and quick action on Carter's expected plan to consolidate energy functions of the government in a single department.
He feels there is substantial support for his own proposal to reduce floor stallin gonce debate-limiting cloture has been invoked. Byrd's plan would reduce maximum time for post-cloture debate from the current 100 hours, to 50, reduce dilatory quorum calls, make it easier to dispense with the reading of the Senate journal (a demand often made for delaying purpose).
He favors some form of televising of Senate debates, will make every effort to reach adjournment by about Oct. 1 each year, and would like to set up a system "whereby the offices of Senators would be informed of up-to-the-moment developments on the floor," perhaps through closed-circuti radio or TV.
Byrd said the financial disclosure requirements for senators should apply to House members, and judiciary and executive branch members. His idea of wiping out the right to earn speech honoraria will probably be less popular with senators than his call for a $57,500 pay level. Many of them have earned $50,000 or more than from speeches annually in the past, before the current limits were imposed.
Byrd said a key problem for Congress is improving its public image, and the financial disclosure requirements and limits on outside earnings would help correct and bad image.