Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House of Representatives on the Salaries of Members of Congress.
The salaries of the Members of the House of Representatives and of the Senate should be commensurate with the nature and volume of their work and with their responsibilities. Equality between their pay and their job may never be achieved, but certainly there should be less inequity than at present. Under any measuring rod, the members of the federal legislature are underpaid.
The members of Congress are called upon to exercise seasoned judgment in every field of national interest. They must establish the policies that will advance the welfare of our people. They must draft and weigh the statutes to carry out these policies. They must review the administration of the law in order to determine whether the policies and the statutes should be changed. Day in and day out this work must be done in countless fields. Proposals now before Congress exemplify the broad scope of work. Among pending proposals are the international monetary structure, foreign trade policy, economic stabilization, appropriations for war, tax policy, unemployment compensation and full employment.
No business concern or private organization would even attempt to hire top-flight executives or advisors at the level of salaries which presently prevails in the American Congress.
Therefore, the salaries of members of Congress should be increased to a level more in line with the job they are called upon to do. It will not be possible or wise to do this all at once. The adjustment of Congressional salaries at present should be in the full amount consistent with the Little Steel formula and other stabilization criteria by which the government controls salaries and wages in private industry. When these wage and salary controls are lifted, Congressional salaries should be increased to at least $15,000.
HARRY S. TRUMAN
Note: This is the text of identical letters addressed to the Honorable Kenneth McKellar, President pro tempore of the Senate, and to the Honorable Sam Rayburn, Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Harry S. Truman, Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House of Representatives on the Salaries of Members of Congress. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232325