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Congressional Compensation


Congressional compensation is to be determined by a committee separate from Congress.

Congressional Compensation: Proposed Language

Direct and indirect compensation for members of Congress shall be equal. Compensation for members of Congress and their staff shall be established every four years beginning on the first day of the second calendar year following the effective date of the adoption of this  amendment by a majority vote of a committee of six, two appointed by Congress, two by the President, and two by a majority vote of the governors of the several States, one each for a term of two years and one each for a term of four years with appointments made in like manner every two years for a term of four years. Committee deadlocks lasting more than thirty days shall be resolved by the President upon application of any committee member. Such committee shall have the power to appropriate from the federal treasury such funds as shall be required to perform its duties including the compensation and expenses of the members thereof which shall be of public record and never exceed for a committee member the amount established for a member of Congress proportionally reduced to his time of actual service. Appropriations to cover all other costs of operating Congress are reserved to Congress.


Congressional compensation is a favorite political issue. We even have Amendment 27 to the Constitution which prohibits members of Congress from varying their pay until a congressional election has intervened. No one wants to be seen as increasing his pay while a member of Congress, thereby also being seen as using his political power to pad his pocketbook.  The political fear that this reluctance imposes has generated consequences significantly more adverse than a congressman increasing his pay. It has deterred from the ranks of Congress those who cannot afford to serve because of low salaries.  Second, it has generated an incentive in congressmen to find other ways, sometimes devious and criminal, to increase their remuneration. For example, we find as late as 2011 that Congress does not have restrictions on the ability of its members to take advantage of information unique to them in buying and selling stocks. Third, we hear stories about persons going into Congress as ordinary people but coming out as millionaires. Lastly, we generate a climate where wealthy patricians become the unique class of persons able to run and serve in Congress. There are likely many more arguments against the current system by which Congress compensates itself.

We believe the system can be much improved by establishing a separate committee to compensate Congress and to make it invulnerable to any influence by Congress. In all likelihood, the committee would increase congressional pay to provide incentives for increasing the quality and intelligence of better leaders in Washington, D.C.

It is often said that former Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey was the model of a public servant because he came out of Congress after many years of service with no more than he had when he went in. This should be the standard of a person whose fidelity to the country is his top priority.

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