The House Rules Committee yesterday voted to bar any attempts to knock out a pay raise for Congress and high-ranking members of the executive and judicial branches.
The Rules Committee action would allow one amendment, but only one, lowering the allowable raise from 7 percent to 5.5 percent.
But Rep. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), who wanted to offer an amendment to freeze pay at the current level, would be prohibited from doing so unless the rule, setting the terms of debate and amendments, is defeated on the House floor.*tOthers wanted to offer amendments to take members of Congress out of the list of those eligible for the raise.
The pay raise is provided for in a legislative appropriations bill expected to come to the House floor sometime this week.
The key Rules Committee vote came on an attempt by Rep. Robert E. Bauman (R-Md.) to open the bill to amendments. He was defeated by a 9-to-4 vote, after which the rule barring all but one amendment was passed by voice vote.
Bauman said the Rules Committee action "will allow everybody to say again the fix is in." Bauman said he would attempt to defeat the rule when it comes to the floor.
Rep. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), one of the four who voted against cutting off amendments, said, "I'm sympathetic to my colleagues in terms of pay, but the public sees us fudging around on energy and flopping around on inflation and then smoothly moving through our own pay raise and the hostility to Congress just increases."
"I voted for pay raises in the past, but I can't vote for this one at this time."
But Rep. Gillis W. Long (D-La.) said he supported closing off amendments because he wanted to "assure that the legislative branch is treated the same as the executive branch." But he admitted, "the hoopla will come on the rule."
Sponsors of the language in the appropriations bill call it a "cap," since what it says is that any automatic cost of living increase decreed by President Carter for all federal employes under the comparability-of-pay act would be limited to 7 percent.
They also point out that this increase would cover two years, because it would effectively rescind a freeze that Congress voted last year on its pay and the pay of the supergrades in the executive and judicial branch.
Without the cap, the sponsors contend, the raise for the two-year period could be as high as 11.3 percent.
The proposed cap of 7 percent would raise salaries of members of Congress from $57,500 a year to $61,525.
The raise would also affect all others in the three government branches making more than $47,500 a year (GS18 and above). CAPTION: Picture, ROBERT E. BAUMAN . . . tried to allow amendments