The 2.8 percent raise of $4,700 a year will increase most salaries to $174,000 a year, the McClatchy newspaper group reported Monday.
One critic told the service Congress doesn't deserve the pay hike.
"The general public can't help but think that lawmakers are patting themselves on the back and padding their wallets for presiding over the worst fiscal-policy blunders in recent history," said Pete Sepp, National Taxpayers Union vice president for policy and communications.
Ellis said a delay in a Congress's 2009 pay raise until the recession ends or the jobless rate fell would be wise. It would demonstrate that public officials also sacrifice during times of economic difficulty, he said.