B-206296, Nov 15, 1988

B-206296: Nov 15, 1988

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

Is advised that the payment of the salaries of Members of Congress is fixed by law and that absent specific statutory authority. There is no prohibition against a member accepting his or her salary and then donating such amount to the United States Treasury. The Honorable Tom Tauke House of Representatives This is in response to your letter of October 18. Concerning a ruling which held that Members of Congress must receive their full salary as determined by law and that it is illegal for a member to refuse any or all of his or her salary. We believe the ruling you are referring to is a decision of the Comptroller General of the United States in A-8427. These decisions hold that the salaries of Members of Congress are fixed by law and that.

B-206296, Nov 15, 1988

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Compensation - Waiver - Members of Congress DIGEST: The Honorable Tom Tauke, Member, United States House of Representatives, is advised that the payment of the salaries of Members of Congress is fixed by law and that absent specific statutory authority, members may not waive any portion of their statutory salaries. However, there is no prohibition against a member accepting his or her salary and then donating such amount to the United States Treasury. United States v. Burnison, 339 U.S. 87 (1950); 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3113 (1982).

The Honorable Tom Tauke

House of Representatives

This is in response to your letter of October 18, 1988, concerning a ruling which held that Members of Congress must receive their full salary as determined by law and that it is illegal for a member to refuse any or all of his or her salary.

We believe the ruling you are referring to is a decision of the Comptroller General of the United States in A-8427, Mar. 19, 1925, which has been reaffirmed in B-159835, Apr. 22, 1975, B-123424, Mar. 7, 1975, and B-123424, Apr. 15, 1955. These decisions hold that the salaries of Members of Congress are fixed by law and that, absent specific statutory authority, members cannot waive all or part of their statutory salaries.

These decisions are based on the principle that if compensation is fixed by law, an appointee may not agree to waive all or part of such compensation. 54 Comp.Gen. 393 (1974); 26 Comp.Gen. 956 (1947). To waive all or part of the compensation fixed by statute would violate the prohibition against voluntary service in 31 U.S.C. Sec. 1342 (1982) and, in any event, would be ineffective under decisions of the United States Supreme Court. United States v. Andrews, 240 U.S. 90 (1916); Glavey v. United States, 182 U.S. 595 (1901).

We would point out, however, that there is no prohibition against a member accepting his or her salary and then donating part or all the salary to the United States Treasury. United States v. Burnison, 339 U.S. 87 (1950). In fact, there is a specific statutory provision that gives anyone an opportunity to make a gift to the United States for the sole purpose of reducing the public debt. 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3113 (1982).

We trust that this is responsive to your inquiry. Enclosed for your ready reference are copies of the Comptroller General decisions cited above.