The House Appropriations Committee voted yesterday to continue for another year the pay freeze for federal employes earning more than $50,112 a year. The provision contained in the legislative appropriation bill would mean no pay raise again next year for members of Congress, Cabinet members and senior career civil servants in the top four pay grades.
Not surprisingly, considering how Congress has been cutting back federal aid programs, the committee also chickened out on a proposal by its senior members to increase about four-fold the present $3,000 a year that members of Congress may deduct from taxes for living expenses in Washington.
The argument for it is that since members must maintain two residences, they should get a living allowance while in Washington and the $3,000 figure adopted in 1952 should be raised to catch inflation. Sponsors say it would simply treat congressmen like businessmen who deduct living expenses while on the road. But it would give congressmen an advantage because they are permitted to call their residences in their districts their homes for tax purposes and deduct living expenses in Washington where they now spend most of their time.
Chairman Jamie L. Whitten (D-Miss.) and senior Republican Silvio O. Conte (Mass.) wanted to write the increase into the legislative money bill but sub-committee Chairman Vic Fazio (D-Calif.) objected, suggesting it should be handled by the Ways and Means Committee. No one pressed the issue. The Ways and Means Committee considered raising the deduction in the last Congress but dropped it after it was widely publicized.
Rep. Clair W. Burgener (R-Calif.) said that if the deduction is not raised soon Congress will be "populated by millionaires and ne'er-do-wells."