House leaders nix per diem for members of Congress

House leaders have nixed an attempt to supplement Congressional salaries with a daily per diem. On Monday, the newspaper Roll Call reported that Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill. and House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, D-Mo., killed a proposal to provide a tax-free per diem of $165 to each legislator for every day that Congress is in session. The per diem would have been in addition to members' $145,100 annual salaries, and the measure didn't require a vote before going into effect. But, Hastert and Gephardt both refused to support the measure. Money to pay the per diem would have come out of lawmakers' representational allowances, the money they receive annually to pay staff salaries and office expenses. A biennial study by the Congressional Management Foundation found that congressional staffers earn on average 45 to 57 percent less than private sector employees.
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