House and Senate leaders reported average incomes of between $168,597 and $214,188 last year, at least twice their congressional salaries and 12 times more than per capita income in the United States, according to a group opposed to congressional pay raises.
The Repeal the Salary Grab Campaign, founded by consumer activist Ralph Nader to oppose a 16 percent raise that took effect in March, said the figures suggest that members of Congress "earn quite a healthy living" without it.
Using data from financial disclosure reports, the group found that four Senate and five House leaders took in an average of $23,882 in honoraria for speeches and public appearances, had investment income of between $65,214 and $110,805, and had net worth of between $447,426 and $710,009.
That was on top of congressional salary, which was $85,000 for Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), Senate Minority Leader Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.), House Speaker Jim Wright (D-Tex.) and House Minority Leader Robert H. Michel (R-Ill.). House Majority Leader Thomas S. Foley (D-Wash.) and party whips in both chambers earned $75,100 in 1986.
With the March raise and an earlier cost-of-living increase, leaders now receive $99,500 a year except for Wright, who gets $115,000.
Per capita income in the United States in 1985 was $13,876, the group said, and the median household net worth in 1984 was $32,667. Members of Congress list income and assets in categories rather than reporting precise figures, so the study was able only to average the figures in ranges.
Of the nine leaders, only Byrd and Senate Minority Whip Alan K. Simpson (R-Wyo.) refused the raise, the group reported.