US Congressman Salary and Benefits (With Duties)
Updated March 10, 2023
The U.S. Congress has the important job of representing the American people. This legislative branch shares power with the executive branch and the judicial branch of the United States. The House of Representatives, with its congressmen and congresswomen, and the Senate with its senators, make up the two divisions of Congress.
In this article, we summarize the duties of the members of Congress and provide information about a congressman's salaries and benefits.
What is a congressman's salary?
A congressman's salary varies based on the representative's or senator's job title. Most senators, representatives, delegates and the resident commissioner from Puerto Rico make a salary of $174,000 per year. Higher-level positions in Congress make a higher income. The president pro tempore of the Senate, majority leaders and minority leaders in the House and Senate make $193,400 per year.
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Primary duties of Congress members
Congress is a legislative branch of the federal government responsible for representing the people of the United States. It is the only legislative branch elected directly by the citizens of the U.S.
The primary duties of Congress, which consist of both congressmen and senators, include:
Impeaching and trying federal officers
Overseeing public money
Approving presidential appointments
Approving treaties negotiated by the executive branch
Government oversight and investigations
Roles within the House
Both the House and the Senate have similar job duties. One key difference includes the House's role in initiating revenue bills. The speaker of the House explains legislative action to both Washington officials and the public. They work as the spokesperson for the political party that holds the majority in the House. The speaker also manages the House debate and oversees accounting and procurement for the House. Other roles within the House of Representatives include:
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Roles within the Senate
The Senate ratifies treaties and approves presidential appointments for other offices and roles. The president pro tempore of the Senate presides over the Senate if the vice president is absent. They can sign legislation and issue an oath of office to new senators. Additional job roles and titles in the Senate include:
Assistant party leaders
Benefits for members of Congress
Congressmen and senators receive a wide range of employee benefits and perks for serving in office. Many of these benefits depend on how long they have served in office and what plans they choose.
Here are some benefits congressmen and senators receive besides their annual salary:
Members of Congress receive annual allowances that cover the personal expenses of doing their job. This includes expenses for their office, travel, goods and services. The allowance provides additional funds added to the base salary for the use of job-related purchases and costs.
Congressmen and senators purchase their insurance through an Affordable Care Act exchange. 72% of their premiums are covered by a federal subsidy. When they retire, they can qualify for lifetime health insurance under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.
After serving for five years, a member of Congress becomes eligible for a pension plan. Their retirement benefits depend on their plan, age and time served in Congress. A member of Congress can collect their full pension at the age of 62 or if they are 50 years old with 20 years of service. They can earn up to 80% of their final salary, though this high percentage rarely occurs.
Family death gratuity
If a member of Congress dies while serving in office, their family can receive a payout equivalent to a year's salary. This benefit aims to ease the financial burden of the family following their loss. Each member of Congress receives this benefit regardless of age or time served.
Congressmen have the perk of free and reserved parking in DC-area airports. They also have various flight perks. Parking and flight benefits make it easier for members to complete the required travel of the role and maintain their busy schedules.
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Other sources of income for Congress members
Members of Congress must follow restrictions on the amount of outside income they can earn while serving in office. Senators and representatives may only earn up to 15% in excess of their annual congressional salary. Federal laws prevent them from earning any income from fiduciary relationships. This rule helps prevent any conflicts of interest within Congress.
Congress members may earn income from their personal investments since the law considers them "unearned" income. This could include money made from rent, interest or stock dividends. These earnings don't contribute to the 15% rule because members in this situation collect income on assets they already own.
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Frequently asked questions
When is the last time Congress members' salaries increased?
Congress members' salaries have not increased since 2009. For many years, Congress doesn't receive a salary increase because of federal budget deficits. Exact salaries and increases can vary according to laws, location and time served.
Do members of Congress pay into Social Security?
Every member of Congress has paid into Social Security since 1984. They receive eligibility for the same Social Security benefits as all other participants. Likewise, members of Congress who have been elected after 1984 also pay into and are covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). After five years of full participation, they become vested.
Do members of Congress pay income taxes?
Congress members must pay their income taxes, just like every other American does. This includes money made from their government salary, private businesses and military pay. Congress members follow the same general tax guidelines and systems as private citizens.
Can Congress vote to give themselves a pay raise?
The pay raises of Congress are calculated based on the Employment Cost Index (ECI). Congress can vote to accept or reject the pay increase based on that calculation. Many factors such as the economy, budget and inflation can affect the vote and pay increase in Congress.
Do members of Congress get free housing?
Members of Congress do not receive free housing or housing reimbursement. Annual allowances can cover hotel costs for work-related travel or relocation to the Washington D.C. area. However, Congress members don't receive rental or mortgage payment support as part of their salary or benefits package.
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