Don't worry, members of Congress' pay won't be affected by sequestration, all thanks to the 27th Amendment!
|Staffers face 22 days of furloughs, which add up to about a 20 percent pay cut for them, and layoffs lurk as a possibility. Unless, of course, you are an actual member of Congress. Your pay can’t be cut as part of the 2011 Budget Control Act.|
So why are the “bosses” in Congress not suffering with the staff, at least not until later this spring?
The 27th Amendment to the Constitution forbids Congress from changing its own pay during a current term of Congress. The sequester “poison pill” in the 2011 Budget Control Act was scheduled to go into effect on January 2, 2013, the last day of the prior Congress.
The actual rules for who gets sequestered, and who doesn’t, are set by the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act of 1985, as amended. The Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010 can also be a factor when a sequester goes into effect.
Congressional pay is just one of many programs that will be exempt from cuts. According to the Congressional Research Service, “Most exempt programs are mandatory, and include Social Security and Medicaid; refundable tax credits to individuals; and low-income programs such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and Supplemental Security Income.”
Somehow, Congress found a way to delay its own pay, possibly until January 2015, by agreeing to put its pay in escrow on April 16, 2013, as part of the fiscal cliff deal. Even that act has been subject to a vigorous debate as a possible violation of the 27th Amendment, and it could be challenged if the budget deadlock drags out.