Amendment XXVII Congressional Compensation

Originally proposed September 25, 1789. Ratified May 7, 1992

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

Amendment XXVII

Congressional Compensation

By Annenberg Classroom

*Note: The Interactive Constitution is being developed over the course of the next two years. So far, Amendments 1-15 have Interactive content, and we are working on bringing you Interactive content for this Amendment. In the meanwhile, the interpretation below is supplied by the Annenberg Classroom.

Amendment XXVII prevents members of Congress from granting themselves pay raises during the current session. Rather, any raises that are adopted must take effect during the next session of Congress. Proponents of the amendment believed that legislators are more likely to be cautious about increasing congressional pay if they have no personal stake in the vote. The amendment was introduced in Congress in 1789 by James Madison and sent to the states for ratification at that time.

It was not until 1992 however, after public displeasure with repeated congressional pay increases, that the required three-quarters of the states ratified the measure. Unlike several other recent amendments, which contained a seven-year time limit for ratification by the states (see for example Amendments XX and XXI) Madison’s proposed amendment contained no time limit for ratification.