Is Congress exempt from "many" laws including one against sexual harassment?
Lawmaker Loopholes? A FactCheck.org Q&A regarding, as they termed it, the latest e-mail rant against Congress, tackles some of these 'false and outdated' claims:
Q: Is Congress exempt from "many" laws including one against sexual harassment?
A: No. The latest e-mail rant against Congress — proposing a "28th Amendment" to the Constitution — is full of false and outdated claims.
A chain e-mail (see below) claims members of Congress can retire after one term with their same pay and, while serving, pay no Social Security and exempt themselves from some laws, e.g., sexual harassment and health care legislation. A 28th Amendment to the Constitution is proposed barring Congress from enacting laws applying to its members and not equally to the "citizens of the United States."
Are the facts right?
Subject: An idea whose time has come
For too long we have been too complacent about the workings of Congress. Many citizens had no idea that Congressmembers could retire with the same pay after only one term, that they didn’t pay into Social Security, that they specifically exempted themselves from many of the laws they have passed (such as being exempt from any fear of prosecution for sexual harassment) while ordinary citizens must live under those laws. The latest is to exempt themselves from the Healthcare Reform that is being considered …in all of its’ forms.
That’s a lot of very old baloney packed into a few words. It never has been true that members of Congress could retire with full pay after one term. That’s a false allegation that has been circulating for at least a decade. As we reported back in 2007, lawmakers can qualify for very good pensions, but nowhere near that good. A lawmaker might qualify for a pension of 80 percent of final salary, and only after many years of service.
An even older Internet myth is the claim that members of Congress don’t pay into Social Security. That was true once — but not for the past quarter-century. They have paid Social Security taxes since 1984, as we reported in a separate article, also in 2007. The claim that members of Congress would be somehow "exempt" from the now-stalled health care legislation is a more recent absurdity. It’s a twisted claim based on misrepresentations of the House and Senate bills, neither of which exempts lawmakers. We explained how that false notion got started on the Internet rumor mill in an article we posted on Jan. 20.
Finally, the claim that Congress is exempt from "many" of the laws it has passed is 15 years out of date. In the 1980s there were news stories prodding members of Congress for putting themselves "[a]bove their own laws," as a 1988 Time magazine story put it. But following the "Republican Revolution" of 1994, which put Republicans in control of both House and Senate, Congress passed the Congressional Accountability Act (PL 104-1), which applies a dozen civil rights, labor and workplace safety regulations to the legislative branch.
Read the rest of the FactCheck.org Q&A about these chain e-mail claims
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