Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, said this week he is introducing legislation that would force Congress to vote on the proposed 50 percent pay hike for members, and would not allow the raise to go into effect until after the next election.
Others - including Reps. Jim Hansen and Howard Nielson, both R-Utah - have already co-sponsored similar legislation. But most Congressional observers say the pay raise - from $89,500 to $135,000 a year - is almost sure to become law anyway.Once President Reagan proposed the pay raise to Congress in his budget on Monday, both houses of Congress would have to vote within 30 days to reject or it becomes law under complicated procedures set up by Congress.
The Senate will reportedly vote on and likely reject the raise. But House leaders apparently will not allow a vote there, meaning the raise will take effect in both houses. However, the House will vote soon afterward to abolish honoraria - the fees congressmen receive for giving speeches to special interest groups.
Owens said, "I delayed a formal statement on the proposed increase in the hope that the president would reject the proposal and make a final effort at fiscal restraint.
"I was disappointed that he failed to cut the (salary study) commission's recommendation to a level comparable to the maximum in outside income that House members are now allowed to earn through honoraria," which would have been a raise of $26,850.
If, as Owens' bill will propose, a vote does come up on the proposed pay raise, Owens said he will vote against it. If it passes, he said he will support an immediate ban on honoraria.
"At a time when Congress is struggling to bring the budget into line and decrease a staggering deficit, it is improper for us to look first to our own needs and not muster the courage to face a recorded vote on the issue."
He added, "This pay raise issue is being turned by some into a partisan issue, but the irony is that this is the recommendation of the most fiscally conservative president in decades."