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Chaffetz blasts federal pay raises, except his own

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 10 2010 1:53 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah congressman is taking issue with giving federal workers pay raises, instead pushing for at least a pay freeze if not a 10 percent pay cut, while stopping short of saying he himself should make less money.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said the number of workers who make more than $150,000 per year has doubled since President Barack Obama took office.

"We're paying too many people too much money," Chaffetz said in an interview Wednesday on KSL Newsradio.

When the new Congress takes office in January, Chaffetz will head up the panel overseeing federal pay. He said there are far too many federal employees in the system to begin with, so Obama's plan for a 1.4 percent across-the-board pay increase doesn't sit well with him.

Chaffetz recommended the government take a page out of his book. His office gets a $1.5 million budget each year to do business, but he says that's too much. "I gave back $300,000 or so, roughly, out of my budget last year, because we didn't spend it," Chaffetz said. "That's the kind of thing that we need to do to actually have the big effect on the payroll."

But Chaffetz, who received national media coverage by sleeping on a cot in his House office rather than pay for Washington digs, wouldn't say whether he and other members of Congress should get pay cuts themselves.

Each member of the House and Senate earned $174,000 this year. The members could choose to turn down their pay raises, and some of them do, including Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah. Although those who do eventually receive the raise when the base pay increases automatically the next year.

When asked whether $174,000 is too much, Chaffetz pointed instead to the overall congressional budget and said it needs to be revamped.

"It doesn't mean that everybody's going to get an individual pay cut," Chaffetz said. "They're through consolidation and through efficiencies and through good management and just — maybe firing some people."

He said Congress needs to meet with the president and his cabinet to reduce the congressional budget by $74 billion.

e-mail: bbruce@desnews.com

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