Congress is once again dangling the possibility of a long-delayed raise before senior government executives. And once again there is no guarantee that they will get it.
Senate Majority Whip Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) said yesterday he was urging House Republican leaders to include the raise, along with a controversial salary increase for House members, in their draft of the continuing resolution to keep the government operating after Dec. 15.
"The indication I have is that it may be tried," Stevens told reporters.
However, both House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) and Senate Majority Leader Howard H. Baker Jr. (R-Tenn.), said they doubted that a pay raise for either government executives or House members would pass.
As part of an earlier version of the continuing resolution, the Senate approved pay levels last month for 40,000 top government officials that would mean increases of nearly 20 percent for the highest-level employes, with smaller increases for others.
But the House rejected the proposal after House-Senate conferees coupled the employes' pay increase with a 4.8 percent raise for House members. The resolution itself was vetoed by President Reagan, meaning Congress had to start over again.
If House leaders include the raise in the new resolution, some members believe it has at least some chance of passing if no one demands a separate vote on the pay issue. House members normally insist on coupling their salaries with those of the bureaucracy but don't want to go on record to raise their own pay.
If the House wants to raise its pay, the Senate will probably go along, Stevens said, even though it would mean paying House members more than senators. Because they have to campaign for reelection more often than senators, "they have higher costs than we do and they should get that increase," said Stevens.