Pay and Perquisites of Members of Congress, Including A History of House and Senate Salaries

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(To learn more about Congress, see our Congress in a Nutshell course.  More detailed information about Congress can also be found in the Congressional Deskbook.  See especially Chapter 4, “Supporting Congress: Allowances and Staff”: § 4.10, “Pay and Allowances of Members”, § 4.30, “House Allowances for Staff, Office and Other Expenses”, § 4.40, “Senate Allowances for Staff, Office and Other Expenses”, and § 4.50, “Franking Privilege”.)

For information about numbers in Congress, see Congress by the Numbers.

  Pay

 

House and Senate Salaries
  House Senate
  Salary Honoraria Salary Honoraria
1789 – 1795 $6 per diem no limit $6 per diem no limit
1795 – 1796 $6 per diem no limit $7 per diem no limit
1796 – 1815 $6 per diem no limit $6 per diem no limit
1815 – 1817 $1,500 no limit $1,500 no limit
1817 – 1855 $8 per diem no limit $8 per diem no limit
1855 – 1865 $3,000 no limit $3,000 no limit
1865 – 1871 $5,000 no limit $5,000 no limit
1871 – 1873 $7,500 no limit $7,500 no limit
1873 – 1907 $5,000 no limit $5,000 no limit
1907 – 1925 $7,500 no limit $7,500 no limit
1925 – 1932 $10,000 no limit $10,000 no limit
1932 – 1933 $9,000 no limit $9,000 no limit
1933 – 1935 $8,500 no limit $8,500 no limit
1935 – 1947 $10,000 no limit $10,000 no limit
1947 – 1955 $12,500 no limit $12,500 no limit
1955 – 1965 $22,500 no limit $22,500 no limit
1965 – 1969 $30,000 no limit $30,000 no limit
1969 – 1975 $42,500 no limit $42,500 no limit
1975 – 1977 $44,600 no limit $44,600 $15,000
1977 – 1979 $57,500 15% $57,500 $15,000
1979 – 1982 (1) $60,662.50 15% $60,662.50 $25,000
Dec. 1982 – 1983 $69,800 30% (July 1983) $69,800 30%
1984 (2) $72,600 30% $72,600 40%
1985 – 1986 $75,100 30% $75,100 40%
January 1987 $77,400 30% $77,400 40%
March 1987 – 1989 $89,500 30% $89,500 40%
1990 $96,600 30% $98,400 27%
January 1991 $125,100 $0 $101,900 27%
July 1991 $125,100 $0 $125,100 $0
January 1992 $129,500 $0 $129,500 $0
1993 – 1997 $133,600 $0 $133,600 $0
January 1998 $136,700 $0 $136,700 $0
January 2000 $141,300 $0 $141,300 $0
January 2001 $145,100 $0 $145,100 $0
January 2002 $150,000 $0 $150,000 $0
January 2003 $154,700 $0 $154,700 $0
January 2004 $158,100 $0 $158,100 $0
January 2005 $162,100 $0 $162,100 $0
January 2006 $165,200 $0 $165,200 $0
January 2007 (3) $165,200 $0 $165,200 $0
January 2008 (4) $169,300 $0 $169,300 $0
January 2009 (5) $174,000 $0 $174,000 $0
January 2010 (6) $174,000 $0 $174,000 $0
January 2011 (7) $174,000 $0 $174,000 $0
January 2012 (8)
$174,000 $0 $174,000 $0
April 2013 (9)
$174,000 $0 $174,000 $0
January 2014 (10)
$174,000 $0 $174,000 $0

(1) Percentage increases in congressional salaries are generally rounded to the nearest $100. The 1979 increase was not rounded because of specific language in the enacting legislation.

(2) In 1984, actual increase amounted to less than $270, because members started paying Social Security in 1984.

(3) Executive Order December 21, 2006 (11-page PDFPDF) “The rate of pay for the Vice President is effective on the first day of the first applicable period beginning on or after January 1, 2007, and the rates of pay for Members of Congress are effective February 16, 2007″. Also see OPM Memo, CPM 2006-19, December 21, 2006. However, Section 115 of H.J.Res. 20, the Revised Continuing Appropriations Resolution for FY2007, as signed into law by the President on February 15, 2007, denied a pay adjustment in 2007 to the Speaker of the House, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, the Majority and Minority Leaders of the House and Senate, and the Senators and Representatives.

(4) Executive Order 13454: “Adjustments of Certain Rates of Pay,” Federal Register, Vol. 73 No. 5, page 1486, January 8, 2008 (14-page PDFPDF).

(5) Executive Order 13483: “Adjustments of Certain Rates of Pay,” Federal Register, Vol. 73 No. 247 page 78587, December 18, 2008 (12-page PDFPDF). Also see “Pay Freeze,” Presidential Memorandum of January 21, 2009, 74 FR 4679 (1-page PDFPDF).

(6) Executive Order 13525: “Adjustments of Certain Rates of Pay,” Federal Register, Vol. 74 No. 249, page 69231, December 23, 2009 (12-page PDFPDF).

(7) Executive Order 13561: “Adjustments of Certain Rates of Pay,” Federal Register, Vol. 75 No. 249, page 81817, December 29, 2010 (14-page PDFPDF)

(8) Executive Order 13594: “Adjustments of Certain Rates of Pay,” signed December 19, 2011, Federal Register, Vol. 76 No. 247, page 80191, December 23, 2011 (13-page PDFPDF)

(9) Executive Order 13635: “Adjustments of Certain Rates of Pay,” signed December 27, 2012, Federal Register, Vol. 78 No. 2, page 649, January 3, 2013 (12-page PDFPDF) The Executive Order signed Dec. 27, 2012, provided that the adjustments of rate of pay for the Judiciary, Members of Congress, Vice President, and Cabinet Officers are effective on the first day of the first applicable pay period beginning after March 27, 2013. However, The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (112 H.R. 8) (the fiscal cliff deal) included language holding congressional salaries at current rates through 2013, meaning part of the President’s Executive Order–lawmakers’ pay–will not go into effect.

(10) Executive Order 13655: “Adjustments of Certain Rates of Pay,” signed December 23, 2013, Federal Register, Vol. 78 No. 251, page 80451, December 31, 2013 (12-page PDFPDF)

See “Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Officials: Process for Adjusting Pay and Current Salaries,” CRS Report RL33245, February 9, 2011 (20-page PDFPDF) (Open CRS)

The top six leaders of Congress receive additional pay. The figures below reflect an upward adjustment on January 1 of the indicated year for a cost of living increase. However, see note (3) above for 2007, and note (9) above for 2013.

 


Salaries for Federal Officials
2014 (10) 2013 (9) 2010 (6)
&
2011 (7)
&
2012 (8)

2009 (5)

2008 (4)

2007 (3)

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002
Legislative Branch

Speaker of the House

$223,500

$223,500

$223,500

$223,500

$217,400

$212,100

$212,100

$208,100

$203,000

$198,600

$192,600

Majority and minority leaders of both chambers
and Senate president pro temporare

$193,400

$193,400

$193,400

$193,400

$188,100

$183,500

$183,500

$180,100

$175,700

$171,900

$166,700

Senators and Representatives

$174,000

$174,000

$174,000

$174,000

$169,300

$165,200

$165,200

$162,100

$158,100

$154,700

$150,000
Judicial Branch

Chief Justice

$255,500

$223,500

$223,500

$217,400

$217,400

$212,100

$212,100

$208,100

$203,000

$198,600

$192,600

Associate Justices

$244,400

$213,900

$213,900

$208,100

$208,100

$203,000

$203,000

$199,200

$194,300

$190,100

$184,400

US Courts of Appeals judges

$211,200

$184,500

$184,500

$179,500

$179,500

$175,100

$175,100

$171,800

$167,600

$164,000

$159,100

Federal District judges

$199,100

$174,000

$174,000

$169,300

$169,300

$165,200

$165,200

$162,100

$158,100

$154,700

$150,000
Executive Branch

President

$400,000

$400,000

$400,000

$400,000

$400,000

$400,000

$400,000

$400,000

$400,000

$400,000

$400,000

Vice President (3)

$233,000

$231,900

$230,700

$227,300

$221,100

$215,700

$212,100

$208,100

$203,000

$198,600

$192,600

Cabinet Officers

$201,700

$200,700

$199,700

$193,400

$188,100

$186,600

$183,500

$180,100

$175,700

$171,900

$166,700

Sources:

Also see

Perquisites

See generally:

.

Retirement Benefits

Retirement Benefits for members are available through the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the newer Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS). FERS was enacted in 1986 to provide retirement benefits for all civilian employees and postal workers hired after Dec. 31, 1983. FERS consists of three major parts: Social Security, a required basic plan to supplement Social Security and an optional tax-deferred savings plan similar to private 401(k) plans. More senior workers who are covered by CSRS were allowed to join the new system between July 1, 1987, and December 31, 1987.

  • Under CSRS, a member becomes eligible for benefits upon retirement from Congress if he or she is 62 years old with five years of congressional service; 60 years old with 10 years of service; or 50 years old with 20 years of congressional service.
  • Under FERS, a member becomes eligible for benefits upon retirement from Congress if he or she is 62 years old with five years of congressional service; 50 years old with 20 years of service; or any age with 25 years of congressional service.

.

Personal Staff Allowances

Personal Staff Allowances
enable members to hire aides for clerical, administrative, legislative and media support. (See Congressional Deskbook, § 4.60, “Personal Staff”).

The Members’ Representational Allowance (MRA) is the budget authorized by the Committee on House Administration for each Member of Congress in support of the conduct of official and representational duties to the district from which elected. For Legislative Year 2011, the MRA ranged from $1.3 – 1.9 million. The Statement of Disbursements (SOD) is a quarterly public report of all receipts and expenditures for U.S. House of Representatives Members, Committees, Leadership, Officers and Offices. The House has been required by law to publish the SOD since 1964. Statement of Disbursements – House

  • Representatives’ staff allowances can be used to hire up to 18 permanent and four non-permanent aides divided between the members’ Washington and district offices. Up to $75,000 of a representative’s staff funds can be transferred to his or her official expense account for use in other categories, such as
    computer and related services. The maximum salary allowed House personal staffers in 2005 was $156,848 (2001: $140,451).
  • Senators’ personal staff allowances vary with the size of the members’ states. Senators may hire as many aides as they wish within their allowance; typically this ranges between 26 and 60, depending on the size of the state and the salary levels offered to the staffers.
  • The maximum salary allowed to Senate personal staffers in 2003 was $150,159 (1999: $132,159); for Senate legislative staffers the maximum salary in 2005 was $153,599.
  • In addition to their personal staffs, senators and representatives are assisted on legislative matters by staffs of the committees and subcommittees on which they serve.
  • Congressional salary information is available from LegiStorm.
  • “Legislative Branch Staffing, 1954-2007,” CRS Report R40056, October 15, 2008 (13-page PDFPDF) (Open CRS)
  • Also see “Wonk Time: Increase the MRA in the House?” by Matt Glassman, March 15, 2012

.

Expense Allowances

Expense Allowances
for members, kept separate from personal staff allowances, cover domestic travel, stationery, newsletters, overseas postage, telephone and telegraph service, and other expenses in Washington and in the members’ state or congressional districts.

See also

.

The Franking Privilege

The Franking Privilege, a valuable perquisite, allows a member to mail official letters and packages under the members’ signature without charges for postage. (See Congressional Deskbook, § 4.50, “Franking Privilege”)

  • Regulations limit the franking privilege to correspondence “in which the member deals with the addressee as a citizen of the United States or constituent.”
  • Among the major categories of mail permitted under the franking privilege are mail to any individual or agency and to officials at any level of government regarding programs and proposed legislation; newsletters and news releases; questionnaires, nonpartisan voter registration or election information and assistance; mailings that consist of federal laws and regulations; government publications and publications of general interest.
  • The use of the frank is prohibited for mail that is purely personal, mail that is “laudatory and complimentary” to the member, or mail related to a political campaign.
  • In 1989, the franking privilege came under strong attack – and even appeared endangered at one point. The attack focused on incumbents’ use of mass mailings, particularly newsletters about a member’s activities and notices of town meetings, to raise name identification in an election year. Runaway costs of such mailings also were a point of concern.
  • In legislation considered in 1989, both the House and Senate voted at different points to eliminate the franking privilege for mass mailings. However, in the end, members only cut in half, from six to three, the number of such mailings a member is allowed to send each year. (Mailed announcements for town meetings were not included.) The final provisions of the legislation limited the amount of newsletters and set up separate funding accounts for the House and Senate to make it clear which chamber is exceeding its limits.
  • The Senate in 1989 changed its internal rules concerning franked mail to allocate funds among senators and to prevent use of campaign funds to pay for franked mass mailings – a practice House rules already barred.
  • The fiscal year 1991 Legislative Branch Appropriations Act also imposed new restrictions on franking privileges. The act gave each House member a mail budget and required public disclosure of how much each member spends on mailings. The act also limited a senator’s ability to transfer funds into their mail accounts from other accounts.
  • Franking Privilege: Mass Mailings and Mass Communications in the House, 1997-2012, CRS Report RL34458, June 11, 2013 (15-page PDFPDF)
  • Franking Privilege: Historical Development and Options for Change, CRS Report RL34274, August 21, 2013 (30-page PDFPDF) (Open CRS)
  • Congressional Franking Privilege: Background and Recent Legislation, CRS Report RS22771, April 10, 2013 (11-page PDFPDF) (Open CRS)

.

Foreign Travel

Foreign Travel
by members for the conduct of government business is financed through special allowances. These funds can come from various sources.

  • Money is appropriated by Congress through the Mutual Security Act to pay travel and other expenses of congressional committees for routine and special investigations.
  • Members traveling abroad are allowed to use American-owned counterpart funds. These are foreign currencies held by U.S. embassies and credited to the United States as part of various foreign assistance programs; they can be spent only in the country of origin.
  • American Ambassadors overseas are allocated sums for official entertaining. These funds may be used for the same purpose by members of Congress when traveling overseas.
  • Members may use the funds of various government agencies when they speak on foreign policy issues at overseas posts.
  • Members may travel on military aircraft, including cargo planes, at no charge.
  • The 1989 Ethics in Government Act set restrictions on foreign travel paid by lobbyists and other special interests.
  • For both the House and Senate, special-interest paid foreign travel is limited to seven consecutive days, excluding the days spent traveling.
  • Domestic travel funded by special-interest groups is limited to four consecutive days on the House side (including travel time), and three consecutive days on the Senate side (excluding travel time).
  • One relative per trip also may accept special interest-paid travel expenses, and the ethics committee may grant an extension in exceptional circumstances.

See also

.

Outside Employment Income

Outside Employment Income
is generally limited to 15% of member pay. There are, however, certain prohibited categories: Members may not receive compensation for employment in real estate, insurance sales, the practice of law, the practice of medicine, or service as an officer or board member.

.

Domestic Travel (to and from District/State)

Domestic Travel (to and from District/State)

House: Included in office expenses is a minimum amount of $9,700 (2003), with additional funding based on a formula that uses the distance from Washington, DC to the farthest point in the Congressional district from Washington.

Senate: The official expense allowance is based overall on population and distance, and includes travel.

 



 

For more information on Congressional pay and perks, see also

 

 



 


American Government and Politics Today: Essentials

Guide To Congress

The Almanac of American Politics 2014

Politics in America

Also see

 

 



 

Quick DC Links – Washington Essentials
 

 

URL: CongressPay.com






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