The White House proposed legislation on Thursday to cap the pay of federal government contractors at no more than the U.S. president's annual salary, saying it wanted to stop "wasteful expenditure."
The president makes $400,000 a year and the current cap on pay for executives at federal contractors is due to be raised in the coming weeks to about $950,000 from $763,000, the White House Office of Management and Budget said.
"This wasteful expenditure of taxpayer resources must stop," OMB official Joe Jordan said.
Jordan said the cap on contractor pay has climbed so steeply because it is pegged to private sector executive pay increases. The administration's proposal would allow exceptions in situations where recruitment is difficult.
The change would apply to thousands of employees and save hundreds of millions of dollars annually, Jordan said. But he said he was unable to provide more detailed information.
The caps apply to what contractors can pay their top five executives.
Past efforts to get Congress to agree to lower caps have gone nowhere. Senators Barbara Boxer, a Democrat, and Chuck Grassley, a Republican, introduced legislation last year to limit payments to the level of the president's salary.
The White House proposal could be a small bargaining chip as it spars with congressional Republicans over the best ways to cut federal spending and trim a massive budget deficit that both political parties say they want to tame.