In a rebuke to the House, the Senate yesterday approved a resolution killing any pay raise for Congress.
The vote was 77 to 9.
The Senate's action will have no immediate effect, because the House is on a 10-day recess. A spokesman for Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) said the House has no intention of returning before Oct. 9. The measure cannot become law until the House acts.
But in what has become an escalating war between the House and Senate, the Senate has won a few points by making it clear it opposes any raise for Congress and that it is working hard while the House is not.
Because of a feud between the House and Senate over abortion funding and the pay raise issue, a bill continuing funding for most government departments was killed by the Senate Friday night.
The Senate was willing to give Congress the 5.5 percent pay increase the House wanted, but in return it wanted the House to soften its language on federal funding of abortions. Instead the House voted for both the pay raise and strict abortion language, then quickly adjourned, leaving the Senate a take-it-or-leave-it choice. After senators denounced the House as "devious fools" and "dogs," they voted to kill the bill rather than give in.
Caught in the middle of the feud are about 22,000 federal employes who make more than $47,500 a year. Because the House and Senate battled to a stand-off over the weekend without passing any measure, the federal employes became entitled to a 12.9 percent accrued pay increase as of midnight Sunday.
However, the chances of getting that amount are slim. The Senate yesterday rolled the figure back to 5.5 percent, and on that, at least, the House is likely to agree.
The only clear winners in the feud are federal judges, who were linked with the top federal employes and Congress in the pay increase.Because the Constitution does not permit a federal judge's salary to be lowered during his term of office, the judges will get the 12.9 percent increase no matter uhat Congress does later.
Also caught in the middle are most government departments and agencies. who technically ran out of authority to continue funding programs and payrolls yesterday, the start of the new fiscal year. Their funding stopped because Congress has not yet passed their appropriations bills. The measure to which the pay raise was attached was a resolution continuing their funding until Oct. 31.
Most departments and agencies have enough funding to continue operating for a week or so, but may run into difficulty after that. If the fight continues much beyond Oct. 10, military personnel might miss some paychecks. If it goes beyond Oct. 20, paychecks for most government workers will be held up.
In addition to knocking out the congressional pay raise and rolling back raises for federal employes to 5.5 percent, the Senate's resolution yesterday included its more liberal language on abortion.