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Fact check: Members of Congress did not get a $40 million pay raise

An article circulating on social media makes the claim that members of Congress recently got a $40 million pay raise. This claim is false.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

The headline of the article appears like a “fact check” itself with a “true” verdict, although the content of the piece is no longer available. The headline of the item can be seen archive.vn/sMkLT .

Congress is required by the Constitution to determine its own pay. It has, according to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), periodically enacted legislation to alter its yearly salary, but the last pay rise that happened in this way was in 1991 ( here ).

In 1989, the Ethics Reform Act established a payment adjustment formula that would automatically increase the salaries of members of Congress based on changes in private sector wages as measured by the Employment Cost Index, and prohibiting any rise that would outstrip that of other General Schedule federal employees, according to the CRS.

However, this pay adjustment can be denied statutorily, and has in fact been denied in every year since 2009, when Members of Congress last received a pay increase of 2.8%, to $174,000, ( here ).

In January 2020, the member pay adjustment was also denied. Members of Congress have consistently chosen to avoid the political flak that would have resulted from voting themselves a rise during the years of recovery since the global financial crisis. ( here ).

It is possible that the claim on social media stemmed from debates on emergency funding bills to combat the spread and effects of COVID-19.

In April, Reuters debunked a similar claim that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had asked for a salary raise in the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” or CARES Act ( here ).

VERDICT

False. Members of Congress did not get a $40 million salary raise.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact checking work here .

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