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Amendment XXVII: Congressional Compensation

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

Passed September 25, 1789. Ratified May 7, 1992.

The 27th Amendment is intended to prevent members of Congress from granting themselves pay raises during the course of a session. This is a refinement of Article I, Section 6, the provision granting Congress the authority to establish compensation for its membership.

James Madison introduced this idea to the First Congress, meeting in New York City in the fall of 1789. Congress passed the proposed amendment by the necessary two-thirds vote, but three-fourths of the states did not ratify the measure until 1992. Over the years, various states approved the proposal, but new states had joined the Union, keeping the ratification standard out of reach.

Public displeasure with Congressional pay raises in the 1980s sparked a revival of interest in the measure. In 1992, Michigan became the 38th state to ratify, pushing support past the three-fourths requirement.

Later amendment proposals have often carried an expiration date. Measures that cannot achieve the mandated three-fourths ratification vote by the states are voided. They can be revived only by restarting the entire process.

See Table of Amendments.
See U.S. Constitution (text).
See also Constitution (narrative).