President Bush said Wednesday he will send Congress in the next few days his recommendations for pay raises for top federal officials, members of Congress and judges.
Bush made the commitment as the private National Commission on Public Service suggested pay raises for federal officials virtually as high as the increases that Congress killed in February. Neither Bush nor White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater indicated what Bush's recommendation would be.Fitzwater reiterated Bush's view that there should be pay raises for federal executives, judges and members of Congress, although he said no decisions had been made about recommendations to Capitol Hill.
House Majority Whip Tony Coelho, however, said he considered it unlikely that members of Congress would be willing to consider another pay raise this year.
The private study panel headed by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker recommended pay increases of approximately 50 percent over two years for these federal officials.
The pay increases suggested on Wednesday roughly parallel those called for by a congressionally created panel and endorsed by Bush and his predecessor, Ronald Reagan.
Those increases were rejected by Congress in the face of intense public criticism centering on the proposed pay raise for the lawmakers.
Volcker's commission also recommended that Congress prohibit its members from receiving speaking honorariums and other outside income, saying that otherwise the increase would be more likely to be "perceived by the American people as excessive."
The commission, which includes former President Gerald R. Ford and former Vice President Walter F. Mondale among its 36 members, also suggested pay increases for lower-ranking government workers.
It recommended that these raises be phased in and the cost of them absorbed through reductions in employment or the elimination of government programs.
It reported that the purchasing power of executive, judicial and legislative salaries has fallen by 35 percent since 1969 and recommended that they be restored to the 1969 purchasing power level. This would require an increase of about 50 percent.
The commission recommended that 25 percent of the increase be granted now and the rest by the beginning of the new Congress in 1991. If Congress is unable to act on its own salaries, the commission recommended that the president submit separate pay raises for judges and senior executives.