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Congressional Compensation

Ever wonder why Congress gets to vote itself pay increases?  I did, so I looked it up.  I did all the work for you.


Article 1, Section 6 of the U.S. Constitution states:

The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States.

The 27th Amendment modifies this section:


No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of representatives shall have intervened.

So, when Congress votes itself a raise, it does not take effect until after a new election is held.  Also, unless they vote otherwise, Congress receives an automatic cost of living adjustment (COLA) annually.

A look at how our Congressmen have exercised this right:


  • Compensation started at a whopping $6 per diem in 1789.
  • The largest pay increase was 80% in 1955 (from $12,500 to $22,500).
  • The last major raise was 30% in 1991 (from $96,600 to $125,100).
  • Since 1992 the average annual raise has been 3%; that seems to be about the amount of COLA.
  • Congress can also vote for a pay decrease but… the last time that happened was in 1933.
  • The current pay for the average Congressman is $174,000.  Go here to see how much other officials are being paid (page 4).
  • This year (2010) Congress voted to forego the automatic COLA in 2011.


Data gathered from: http://www.senate.gov/reference/resources/pdf/97-1011.pdf

See the whole spreadsheet: Download Congressional_Pay

Article publié pour la première fois le 20/06/2010