Two last-gasp efforts to force a House vote and probably kill the 29 per cent pay raise recommended for members of Congress and other top federal officials failed yesterday. Barring some sort of miracle, the increases will take effect Sunday.
A House Post Office and Civil Service subcommittee, which held hearings on the issue last week, rejected, 4 to 1, a motion by Rep. John H. Rousselot (R-Calif.) to report favorably to the full committe a resolution disapproving the pay raises.
A vote by The House disapproving the $12.900-a-year pay raise for members of Congress and similar raises for federal judges and top executive branch officials would kill it. But there is not time to get the issue to the floor under normal house procedures before the House adjourns for the week this afternoon.
The only way to get the issue before the House today would be unanimous consent or by some extraordinary action by the House Rules Committee. But Speaker Thomas P. (TIP) O'Neil Jr. (D-Mass.), who favors the pay raise and fears a House vote would kill it, controls the Rules Committee.
And when House Minority Leader John J. Rhodes (R-Ariz.) sought unanimous consent to get a House vote yesterday, Rep. Charles H. Wilson (D-Calif.) objected and blocked it.
Wilson said if the pay raises are justified because top officials of government have had only one 5 per cent pay raise in the last eight years, while living costs have gone up more than 60 per cent.
O'Neil said the administration is having trouble filling top executive branch positions because of the frozen pay levels. He said rejection of the pay would be a "tremendous injustice."
Opponents said they will force a roll-call vote on the usually pro-forma motion to adjourn the House at the end of today's session to get a symbolic vote on the pay-raise issue. Members who want to stay on the floor until the House is given a chance to vote will vote against adjourning.
Rhodes and some other members demanding a House vote favor the pay raise but say members of Congress should stand up and be counted on the issue.
Rep. William D. Ford (D-Mich.), chairman of the subcommittee that held the hearings, has drafted a report recommending that the committe consider proposals such as deferring future congressional pay raises until the Congress after the one that approved it.