Two more Utah congressmen are criticizing a proposed 50 percent pay hike for Congress, which President Reagan decided this week to endorse and forward on to lawmakers for consideration.
Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, and Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, issued statements Friday that are critical of the raise.Rep. Howard Nielson, R-Utah, who has previously spoken against the raise, also issued a statement Friday, this time criticizing Reagan's endorsement.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, has also previously attacked the raise when it was first recommended to Reagan by a pay review commission. Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, has not issued any statement about the raise, and his staff said he was unavailable for comment on Friday.
The raise from $89,500 to $135,000 a year for congressmen will become law unless Congress votes to reject it within 30 days after Reagan officially gives the recommendation to it.
Congressional leaders have said the Senate will likely vote to reject the raise, but House leaders likely will not let it come to a vote - meaning the raise will take effect for both the Senate and House.
But the House apparently will take a vote the day after the time limit on the pay raise expires to abolish honoraria - the ethically questionable fees Congressmen may earn by giving speeches to special interest groups.
Hansen, who is traveling in the Middle East, released a statement Friday saying, "I have long maintained the position that at a time when our country is facing a huge deficit, it doesn't seem appropriate for its lawmakers to receive a big pay boost. I believe strongly that we in Congress must set a better example by tightening our belts.
"I believe any pay increase should be a modest one, similar to a cost-of-living adjustment."
Hansen added, "I am strongly opposed to the back-door method of the Democratic leadership to allow an excessive increase to slip through without debate and a vote. An automatic pay raise shows that Congress is shirking its duty to vote in full view of its constituents."
Hansen has decided to co-sponsor a bill introduced by Rep. Tom Tauke, R-Iowa, that would force a roll-call vote on any pay raise, and any approved raise would not take effect until after the following election. That way a sitting Congress could not raise its own pay. Nielson has also already co-sponsored the same bill.
Owens' press secretary, Art Kingdom, also said on Friday that Owens favors not allowing a sitting Congress to raise its own pay. "He prefers that a raise not take effect until after the next election."
In a press release, Nielson said, "I think the president has made a big mistake in approving the salary commission's report the way it has been issued. I would have preferred it if he had cut the commission's recommendation as he did two years ago,"
Two years ago, Owens and Nielson refused to accept a pay raise that Congress gave itself. The two donated the money to scholarship funds for Utah students.
Hatch said previously that he would vote against the pay hike, and Nielson said he favors a pay hike - but not as large as the one proposed. He said the largest pay hike he would favor is $26,850 a year, the maximum in outside income House members are now allowed to earn through honoraria.