Libertarians Say Congressional Pay Raise Is Coming

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:27 PM EDT

( - At a time when the economy is slowing and many Americans are crying out for tax relief, the Libertarian Party accused the House of Representatives Thursday of planning to give itself, "the sneakiest pay raise in history." They believe the House Administration Committee will activate the raise once they declare their House colleagues to be eligible, but a committee spokesman said Friday, members will not be receiving a pay raise anytime soon.

Libertarians found that "just two months after accepting a raise to an exorbitant $145,100 a year, House representatives are working behind the scenes to enact a 'per diem' expense allowance of $165 per working day. With about 151 legislative days per year, the raise would amount to a $25,000 a year, tax exempt pay hike."

"These devious politicians have hatched another scheme to get rich quick at your expense, without accepting any blame. And if we don't speak out immediately expect this raise to be approved faster than you can say 'pickpocket'," said Steve Dasbach, Libertarian Party national director.

Dasbach also said, "To avoid publicity, Congressional leaders agreed to delegate the power to approve the raise to the House Administration Committee, a low-profile panel that administers payroll and accounting. The panel of six Republicans and three Democrats can trigger the $165 per diem by simply declaring that the House colleagues are 'eligible' for it."

However, House Administration Committee spokesman Jim Forbes told on Friday that House members will not see their salaries rising anytime soon.

"They [Libertarians] should have called us [the House Administration Committee] because they are about two weeks behind the ball. This was in discussion. It was never brought before the committee and it's now a dead issue," said Forbes.

"It's a pay raise but it would have come out of their own budgets, it is not an expenditure to taxpayers. If they would have done it, which won't happen now, but if they would have, it would have been at the expense of their own budget. It was also a voluntary thing, whereas each member, if it would have passed would not have been mandated to take it. It was on a voluntary basis," Forbes said.

Forbes added, "It [the pay raise idea] didn't even reach committee, it was simply in discussion."

House members received an automatic "cost of living increase" last year.