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House lawmakers take $3,300 pay raise
WASHINGTON — Despite record low approval ratings, House lawmakers Tuesday embraced a $3,300 pay raise that would increase their salaries to $168,500.
The 2 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) would be the seventh straight for members of the House and Senate. Lawmakers easily squelched an attempt by Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, to get a direct vote to block the increase, which is automatically awarded unless lawmakers vote to block it.
In the early days of GOP control of Congress, lawmakers routinely denied themselves the annual COLA.
Mollohan admits financial errors
Rep. Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va., under federal investigation for blending his commercial investments with his duties as a congressional appropriator, acknowledged Tuesday that he misstated more than a dozen transactions on his financial-disclosure forms.
The 12-term lawmaker said he recently discovered "a limited number of inadvertent errors" in his public reports from 1999 through 2004. He said he has amended those forms "to correct any inaccurate impressions about my finances."
He also released a chronology purporting to explain how his assets grew from no more than $565,000 in 2000 to at least $6.3 million in 2004, primarily through heavily leveraged real-estate transactions.
Mollohan resigned earlier this year as the ranking Democrat on the House's ethics committee after a probe was begun into his personal finances.
Researcher's work under investigation
A senior Alzheimer's researcher at the National Institutes of Health pocketed more than $600,000 in consulting fees from Pfizer while providing the drug company with thousands of samples of spinal fluid drawn from patients who were studied for his government work, congressional investigators said in a report made public Tuesday.
An attorney for Sunderland said his client "did not conceal his relationship with Pfizer."
However, the committee staff noted that Sunderland did not obtain authorization from the NIH for his arrangement with Pfizer. A spokesman for the NIH said officials could not discuss the case because "it remains under investigation."
GOP scraps vote on agency nominee
Senate Republicans scrapped a vote Tuesday on President Bush's pick to head the Mine Safety and Health Administration after it became clear he didn't have enough support to win Senate approval.
Democrats opposed Richard Stickler's nomination, saying he had spent too many years as a coal-mining executive and failed to demonstrate that safety is his top priority.
Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., used a procedure known as a legislative hold to block Stickler's nomination. The only way Stickler could have overcome that would have been to win support from 60 senators. White House spokesman Ken Lisaius said Tuesday the administration still supports Stickler.
Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., a candidate for House majority leader if the Democrats oust the Republicans from power in November, said Tuesday he will not actively campaign for that post until after the elections.
Compiled from The Associated Press, The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company