House speaker supports pay increase

House speaker supports pay increase

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., Thursday reiterated his support for a pay increase for members of Congress, although he said he was still gauging the opinions of other Republicans.

"I don't know what the whip check is," he told reporters, adding: "I feel members of Congress come here, they do their work. I'm not crying crocodile tears, but they need to be able to have a life and provide for their families."

A vote to increase pay for Members of Congress would also enable all members of the Senior Executive Service to get a pay increase. SES pay is tied to the pay of members of Congress. Because lawmakers denied themselves raises in recent years, top-level SESers have not received pay increases.

Hastert has come out in favor of a cost-of-living increase for members, although House Administration Committee Chairman Bill Thomas, R-Calif., has floated the idea of a per diem as a way to increase members' pay. House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, R-Mo., today expressed his support for a cost-of-living increase, saying an increase that affects both members and federal judges from time to time is "appropriate." Such an increase this year would hike the salaries of members of Congress by about $5,000.

Gephardt also said "it is important to have a vote" to address members' pay-an apparent criticism of any attempt to allow the per diem proposal to take effect by a vote of the House Administration Committee.