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Congressional Salaries FAQ

Overview about Congressional Salaries

Does this website include campaign staffer salaries?

No. Our site currently has only government-paid salaries.

Are these annual salaries listed on your site?

No. The salary shown is that paid during the period of time in question. We publish salary information precisely as it is published in the reports made available to the Clerk of the House and Secretary of the Senate. For the House, salary information is released on a quarterly basis. For the Senate, salary information is released twice a year. Because of fluctuations associated with things like holiday bonuses or leaves of absence to work on political campaigns, annual salaries must be calculated with great caution. Some staffers receive additional non-taxpayer-paid income for political work they perform in their free time.

How much can a staffer get paid?

Limits are placed on the salary a congressional staffer may receive. For 2009, the maximum salary for a staffer in a member's personal office was $169,459 in the Senate and $168,411 in the House. Committee staffers, in certain instances, may be eligible for a slightly higher salary.

Are staffer salaries based on a formula like other federal employees?

No. A staffer’s salary is wholly determined by the member of Congress for whom he or she works, although the staffer salary is capped. As a result, staffer pay can vary widely.

How much do members of Congress get paid?

Almost all members of Congress receive the same salary. In 2009, that number is set to $174,000. Members who have been elected to leadership positions in the Congress receive a higher salary – the Speaker of the House is set to be paid $223,500 per year in 2009; the Senate Speaker Pro Tem and the majority and minority leaders in both the House and Senate receive an annual salary in 2009 of $193,400. You can read more about member salaries here.

Why is the salary data not up-to-date?

Salary data is not published “real-time” because the data simply isn’t available. The House and Senate each publish books with the salary data, with the House publishing quarterly and the Senate publishing every six months. It can take about three months for that data to be published. Because the data is released in hard-copy form, it takes us several weeks more to enter the data and to edit it for accuracy.

How accurate is LegiStorm’s salary data?

Overall, we think we have a very high rate of accuracy compared to the official record. Of course, we do make mistakes and welcome any corrections. With that said, we find that the official record is the source for the vast majority of mistakes pointed out to us, especially with respect to staffer titles. Sometimes, for example, staffers change job descriptions but the official record does not properly reflect that fact. We will change our database where possible, especially if we erred. If the official record is wrong, for data integrity reasons we require some degree of authority from the requester of the change. For example, for a mistake pertaining to a typical employee, we will accept correspondence from the employing member of Congress, a chief of staff or the Clerk of the House or Secretary of the Senate requesting a change in the official record.

My member of Congress’s chief of staff seems to be making only a few thousand dollars each quarter. How can that be?

Often, chairmen of committees have a chief of staff for their personal office who also draws a considerable salary from the committee. Therefore, to see a more accurate picture of what this person makes, you must add the personal office salary to the committee salary. One advantage LegiStorm provides that the original hard-copy records do not is that you can click on a staffer’s salary page and see the entire salary history, including all work for personal offices and committees.

Why do you not have staff salary data for certain members of Congress on your site?

We have privately financed travel data from 2000 through to the present time. We do not have congressional staff salary data going back that far, however. Therefore, there will be some members of Congress who were in office in 2000 or after but left before the start of our salary data.

A financial disclosure does not list the spouse's salary. Why not?

Unlike the filer's outside earned income, spouses are not required to list their exact income. Sometimes filers will disclose more than is required but usually the spouse's salary is simply listed as "over $1,000", the threshold for reporting.

Are the salaries reported gross or net figures?

The salaries as gross, not net, figures.

How far back does your salary information go?

We have all salary data starting from October 1, 2000 through the most recent data available for both the House and Senate.