The "proposed 28th Amendment" to the U.S. Constitution outlined above (sometimes circulated in modified form as the "Congressional Reform Act of 2011") suggests that all laws made by Congress applying to citizens of the United States apply equally to members of Congress themselves (a sentiment which is commonly expressed by critics of health reform efforts). Although this item could be said to have no real "true" or "false" quality to it (since what it referenced was just a hypothetical proposal and not a real piece of legislation), all of the supporting arguments accompanying it are false, and the answers to common questions asked about it are all nearly all negative:
- Is this [text] the actual 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?
- Is this [text] really the proposed 28th Amendment?
- Could this amendment be passed without Congress voting on it?
- Can members of Congress retire with full pay after serving only a single term?
- Are members of Congress exempt from paying into Social Security?
- Are members of Congress exempt from prosecution for sexual harassment?
- Are members of Congress exempt from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act health care legislation?
No. The U.S. Constitution has only 27 amendments, the last of which (a limit on Congressional pay increases) was ratified in 1992.
This item is a "proposed 28th amendment" in the very loose sense that any change to the
In August 2013, nearly four years after this item began making the rounds on the Internet, two Congressmen (Ron DeSantis of Florida and Matt Salmon of Arizona) did introduce a joint resolution (H.J.RES.55) similar to the first example shown above, proposing an amendment to the Constitution stating that "Congress shall make no law respecting the citizens of the United States that does not also apply to the Senators and Representatives." That bill will almost certainly die in committee, and it is exceedingly unlikely that any such broadly worded amendment could ever pass muster in Congress without the underlying idea being subject to a good many qualifications.
Yes and no. Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution specifies two procedures for amendments. One method is for two-thirds of states legislatures to call for a constitutional convention at which new amendments may be proposed, subject to ratification by three-fourths of the states. The constitutional convention method allows for the Constitution to be amended by the actions of states alone and cuts Congress out of the
The other method for amending the Constitution (the one employed with every amendment so far proposed or enacted) requires that the proposed amendment be approved by both houses of Congress (i.e., the Senate and the House of Representatives) by a two-thirds majority in each, and then ratified by three-fourths of the states. It's probably safe to speculate that the odds that a supermajority of both houses of Congress would pass an amendment which placed such restrictions upon them are very low indeed.
No. This is a long-standing erroneous rumor which we cover in a separate article.
No. As noted in our article about Congressional pensions, although Congress initially participated in the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) rather than Social Security, since 1984 all members of Congress have been required to pay into the Social Security fund.
No. The passage of
Section 1311(a) of the CAA specifically prohibits sexual harassment (as well as harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin).
No. One of the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly known as "Obamacare") passed by Congress is a requirement that lawmakers give up the insurance coverage previously provided to them through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and instead purchase health insurance through the online exchanges that the law created:
(i) REQUIREMENT — Notwithstanding any other provision of law, after the effective date of this subtitle, the only health plans that the Federal Government may make available to Members of Congress and congressional staff with respect to their service as a Member of Congress or congressional staff shall be health plans that are: (I) created under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act); or (II) offered through an Exchange established under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act).
(D) MEMBERS OF CONGRESS IN THE EXCHANGE.
(i) REQUIREMENT — Notwithstanding any other provision of law, after the effective date of this subtitle, the only health plans that the Federal Government may make available to Members of Congress and congressional staff with respect to their service as a Member of Congress or congressional staff shall be health plans that are:
(I) created under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act); or
(II) offered through an Exchange established under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act).
An August 2013 ruling by the federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM) was widely and inaccurately reported as exempting members of Congress from the requirement that they give up their Federal Employees Health Benefits Program coverage and instead purchase health insurance through online exchanges. That reporting was incorrect: Lawmakers are still required to purchase health insurance through government-created exchanges; what the OPM's ruling actually declared was that members of Congress and their staffs did not have to give up the federal subsidies covering part of the costs of their insurance premiums which they had previously been receiving (and which are afforded to millions of other federal workers).
Variations: An October 2011 variant of this item is prefaced by a statement made by Warren Buffett: "'I could end the deficit in
Some versions of this item include a statement asserting that the children and staffers of U.S. Congressmen are exempt from paying back student loan obligations. That statement is false.
Later versions of this item have been prefaced with the statement that "Governors of