I heard once that a member of the US Congress who leaves Congress and later takes a position in the Executive branch cannot receive a salary amount that he/she voted on while in Congress.

As a result of this policy, President Ford received the same Presidential salary as FDR.

Can anyone confirm this recollection?

  • 1
    Ford received $200k, and FDR received $75k. Even Nixon who served before Ford made $200k, and Ford was a member of Congress in 1969 when Presidential pay was increased to $200k
    – user1873
    Aug 26, 2014 at 7:07
  • To clarify, are we talking about just the presidential salary, or the salary of any office in the executive branch? Your title infers the former, while the text of the question infers the latter. Aug 26, 2014 at 13:08
  • Mostly the latter; @Bobson handled both parts,,,
    – DJohnM
    Aug 26, 2014 at 18:33
  • Are you interested in Presidential pay as an example or in particular? There are some different provisions in the Constitution for the Presidency. Jan 7, 2019 at 19:43

2 Answers 2


Ryathal's answer is correct, but I'll go into a bit more detail:

Article One, Section 6, Clause 2 of the Constitution, aka the Emoluments Clause or Ineligibility Clause says:

No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.

In other words:

  1. If a new Office is created while you are in the Senate or the House, you are ineligible to take that position for the duration of your elected term. Likewise if the compensation is increased. (see the Saxbe fix for a workaround to the latter)
  2. If you are holding an Office, you must resign your seat in Congress (or vice versa).

However, note the phrase "be appointed to". This means that elected offices, such as the presidency or vice presidency are not covered by this clause. So Ford's and FDR's salaries would not have been affected by this.

  • 2
    Was Ford elected or appointed to replace Agnew as VP, and then Nixon as President? Or is the "office" elective, no matter how it is filled in any particular case?
    – DJohnM
    Aug 26, 2014 at 18:33
  • @User58220 - That's a really interesting question. He was appointed, and while the Constitution protects the salary of the President for his whole term (which shall neither be encreased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected), it says absolutely nothing about the VP's salary. By analogy, it should be as protected as the President's, but technically it isn't. The quoted clause would protect the VP-becoming-president's salary from adjustment until the end of his predecessor's term, though.
    – Bobson
    Aug 26, 2014 at 18:56
  • As if that episode in US government wasn't complicated enough...
    – DJohnM
    Aug 26, 2014 at 19:24
  • Does the Emoluments Clause apply here: I get elected to Congress, serve a couple of terms, vote on the salaries for some appointed offices, get defeated, mess around in the private sector for a while, and then get one of the appointments I helped set the salary for...
    – DJohnM
    Aug 26, 2014 at 23:13
  • 2
    @User58220 - That was my first reading of it, but upon doing a little more research, I realized that it doesn't actually apply to that scenario. After all, the Congress after you could have changed it however they wanted. You can even get defeated and immediately start your new position as soon as your replacement is sworn in, because your compensation is now under his (and the rest of the new Congress') control. But you couldn't do it before he was sworn in, regardless of whether you resign early.
    – Bobson
    Aug 27, 2014 at 0:01

Yes there is a clause that prevents members of Congress from receiving pay increases that they voted on while serving in Congress. Its called the Emoluments Clause. There hasn't been any cases brought to the courts that define exactly how this rule should be followed, but the generally accepted solution is that congress may pass a law to lower the salary of a position to a previous amount. This most recently applied to Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State, but I haven't found any instances where it has been applied to a president.

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