Fact check: Congress salaries unchanged by $1.5 trillion spending bill

The claim: Members of Congress got a 21% pay raise

On March 15, President Joe Biden signed a $1.5 trillion spending bill that will fund domestic and national programs during the 2022 fiscal year. Some social media users claim members of Congress are profiting from the bill.

Conservative personality Carl Higbie shared an Instagram post March 15 that shows a screenshot of his March 14 tweet. The tweet includes a link to a Washington Standard article with the headline, "Congress Just Gave Itself A 21% Raise As Americans Can’t Afford Gas."

"Everything sucks under @JoeBiden, unless you are in Congress," reads text above the link. "In that case you just gave yourself a 21% raise…unreal."

The post generated over 1,400 likes in less than a week. Similar posts, including one Donald Trump Jr. shared, have amassed hundreds of interactions on Facebook and Twitter.

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But the claim is false, as independent fact-checking organizations have reported. There is no evidence congressional pay will change. There is a 21% budget increase in the $1.5 trillion spending bill, but it is only for office budgets – not lawmakers' personal compensation or expenses.

USA TODAY reached out to the social media users who shared the claim for comment.

Spending bill increases office budgets

The enrolled bill doesn't include a pay increase for members of Congress. Republicans on the Senate Appropriations Committee wrote in an overview of the bill that it "continues a provision to freeze the pay of members of Congress."

The annual salary of congressional lawmakers has been $174,000 since 2009, according to a Congressional Research Service report. The speaker of the House earns $223,500 annually while the majority and minority leaders in the House and Senate each earn $193,400 per year.

But the $1.5 trillion spending bill has raised a budget called Members' Representational Allowance to $774.4 million, a 21% increase from 2021, according to a House Appropriations Committee report.

The Members' Representational Allowance is meant to pay for costs incurred as part of a member's "official and representational duties," which may include travel, rent, printing or supplies, according to a Congressional Research Service report. It is not used to pay for expenses "related to activities or events that are primarily social in nature, personal expenses, campaign or political expenses, or House committee expenses," according to the House Ethics Committee website.

The House Appropriations Committee report also notes the bill includes $34.95 million for the majority and minority leadership and $197 million for the operations of House committees. Both numbers increased by 21% over the 2021 level.

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USA TODAY reached out to the House Ethics Committee and the House Appropriations Committee for comment.

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that members of Congress got a 21% pay raise. Congressional pay will remain the same during the 2022 fiscal year. The 21% budget increase in the $1.5 trillion spending bill is only for the Members' Representational Allowance and other office budgets.

Our fact-check sources:

  • Reuters, March 16, Fact Check-Spending bill increased funding for office budgets, not 21% higher salaries for members of congress

  • Associated Press, March 14, Congress members didn’t boost own salaries in March 2022

  • PolitiFact, March 16, Claim is false that members of Congress got a pay raise

  • Congressional Research Service, Aug. 13, 2020, Members’ Representational Allowance: History and Usage

  • House Committee on Appropriations, accessed March 18, Bill summary

  • Senate Appropriations Committee, accessed March 18, FY22 OMNIBUS APPROPRIATIONS PACKAGE – TOPLINE SUMMARY


  • H.R.2471, accessed March 18, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022

  • Congressional Research Service, Jan. 25, 2022, Salaries of Members of Congress: Recent Actions and Historical Tables

  • USA TODAY, Jan. 31, Fact check: False claim that image shows salaries of government officials and service members

  • House Committee on Ethics, accessed March 18, Members' Representational Allowance

  • The New York Times, March 10, 2022, Congress Clears $1.5 Trillion Spending Bill, Including Ukraine Aid

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Members of Congress did not get a 21% pay raise

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