Compensation in Congress

February 24, 1945

Report Outline
Movement to Raise Congressional Salaries
Salary Boost Now: Yea and Nay
Revival of Pensions for Congress
Special Focus

Movement to Raise Congressional Salaries

Unmistakable signs have appeared in Congress during recent weeks that its members are getting ready to vote themselves an increase in salary. The present salary of United States senators and representatives is $10,000 a year; it has remained at that figure since 1925. At a propitious moment, the senators and representatives will vote themselves an increase—probably to $15,000. The timing is important, as members discovered anew when they voted themselves retirement annuities shortly after Pearl Harbor and were compelled to rescind that action within a few weeks. An opportune time for a salary increase will probably not arrive so long as the wage-salary freeze of the War Stabilization Act of 1942 remains in effect for other members of the community.

The movement for an increase in congressional salaries has the endorsement of leading students of government and of officials of the Executive Branch. It goes along with the movement for “modernization” of Congress. In the closing days of the 1944 session, both houses adopted a resolution to set up a bi-partisan committee of six senators and six representatives to study the organization and operation of the Legislative Branch and recommend improvements to enable it “better to meet its responsibilities under the Constitution.” As a first step, members of the House voted themselves a $3,000 increase in clerk hire, and members of the Senate voted themselves increases of $4,020 or $5,040, according to the population of their states. The top limit on clerical salaries was raised from $4,500 to $5,000 to enable members to obtain the services of better men.

The joint committee on modernization of Congress is directed, among other things, to study “the employment and remuneration of officers and employees of the respective houses, and officers and employees of the committees and members of Congress.” There is no specific mention of salaries of senators and representatives or of congressional pensions, but the authorizing resolution states that the committee's studies shall not be limited to the topics to which its attention is specifically directed. The committee's first report is to be made not later than April 1, 1945.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Congressional Pay
Jul. 01, 1953  Pay of Congress
Feb. 24, 1945  Compensation in Congress
Oct. 13, 1937  Wages and Hours of Members of Congress
Congressional Pay and Perquisites