Depending on job level and salary, the nearly 33,000 top government and military officials who were voted raises yesterday by the House would receive 10 to 15 percent pay boosts on salaries that, in some cases, have been capped since 1979.
The salary increases, which still need approval from the Senate, would raise the pay for the vice president and speaker of the House from $79,125 to about $91,000. Pay for Cabinet secretaries would be increased to $80,100. Subcabinet officials, undersecretaries and other lesser agency administrators would receive lesser amounts, with the lowest level of those employes having a pay cap of $63,800. Congressional pay would rise from $60,662 to $69,800.
The 1,400 members of the Senior Executive Service, an elite corps of executive managers whose pay has been capped for the past year at $58,500, would receive raises of between $1,000 to roughly $9,000, for a new pay ceiling of $67,200. Only SESers in levels 2 through 6 would receive the raises.
The bulk of the pay raises would go to employes in the GS15, step 7 level through GS18, all of whom are now capped at $57,500. Their pay would be based on the cost-of-living raises granted other federal workers, whose cost-of-living adjustments have amounted to 34 percent during the past five years.
The raises are expected to cost the government between $60 to $70 million.
Aides to Rep. Vic Fazio (D-Calif.), the author of the pay raise amendment, said yesterday that the top level GS employes would receive either an 11 percent increase over their current salary or the statutory limit to which they are currently entitled, whichever is less. These general schedule employes would receive 11 instead of 15 percent raises because their pay caps were raised last December.
For example, a GS15, step 7, who is now paid $57,500 would be entitled by statute to receive $58,261. Since 11 percent of the current pay would amount to a higher raise, the statutory raise would apply, according to Fazio's office. But a GS18 making $57,500 would be entitled by statute to receive $78,184. An 11 percent increase on that current salary would amount to $63,800, so the 15 percent raise would apply.
Congress last got a pay raise in fiscal 1979, the same year that general schedule employes got their last cost-of-living increase, 5.5 percent.
Fazio's office estimated that the pay increases would apply to 30,500 senior level civilians, 1,700 executive level officials and their subordinates and 530 top military personnel.
G. Jerry Shaw, president of the Senior Executive Association, hailed the House vote as "one of the most courageous things done [by Congress] in a long time." He said the pay boost would enable the federal government to keep good people and attact new ones.
Shaw also acknowledged that the pay for federal workers "would not have gone through without a pay raise for Congress."
Three congressmen from Washington's suburbs -- Reps. Steny Hoyer and Michael Barnes (both D-Md.) and Frank Wolf (R-Va.) -- voted for the raises. The fourth, Rep. Stanford Parris (R-Va.), voted against and said: "I think we're sending the wrong signal around the country if we increase Congress' salary 15 percent in these troubled times... I think [the federal employes] will understand."