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Gregory Watson was an undergrad at the University of Texas, Austin, who rediscovered a forgotten amendment, the 27th Amendment to be accurate. This Amendment had come about on September 25, 1789, including eleven other proposed amendments. The first Congress had wanted to address the issue of salaries for Congress. In 1982, Watson had dredged up this amendment by writing a paper about it. This amendment had not been fully ratified in the 18th century, as it had become constitutional on May 5, 1992, because this was a ratification period of 202 years, 7 months and 10 days when this amendment was finally ratified.
But back to 1789, where the States were debating the ratification of this amendment. Ratifying the Constitution has to be taken seriously. This amendment was a proposed amendment to the Constitution that had been introduced by James Madison, then a member of the House of Representatives. On August 24, 1789, the House passed this article of amendment, but then 202 years later, the student who discovered this situation started a campaign to ratify the 27th Amendment, as he was aware of ratification by six states. He felt that Virginia’s 1791 approval was the last action taken by the states during that time period.
Congress passed The Salary Grab Act on March 3, 1873, because President Ulysses S. Grant was inaugurated for a second term. The President back then had a salary of $50,000. The Salary Grab Act was a 50 percent pay increase for members of Congress, which had been retroactive for their just-ending term. There was a public protest back then about this very situation, and Congress voted to repeal the salary increase. Watson’s campaign had led to the finishing of the ratification by states. Maine was the first state in April 1983, and Colorado in April 1984, Michigan ratified the 27th Amendment on May 7, 1992, which had proven to be the 38th state to ratify this amendment.
But flashing forward to 1983, Maine had become the first state to ratify the 27th Amendment in the 20th century. He had also learned that Wyoming had protested its ratification. The 27th Amendment was mostly about how the law cannot change the amount of compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives. This Amendment was about regulating Congressional pay in an appropriate manner. The Pay limitation provision did not assert itself until the 1980s, because it had gone unnoticed. This provision became a part of the Constitution, but plays a minor role.
As an issue of today, the Constitution’s ability to provide Congress with a cost-of-living increase is something that is debated as people are talking about reducing Congressional salaries, as well as making sure that they should have the same insurance the average person has. Congress is seen as not doing too much, using the public dollars to their advantage. There is talk of lowering their wages by some camps. They actually get a pension after 25 years of service when they hit 50. Congress is able to have a cost-of-living adjustment, the same as what is given to other federal employees. People talk about lowering their wages though because it feels to some constituents that Congress does not get much done for them. Benjamin Franklin actually opposed a salary for Congress in 1787. This then had changed by the 20th Century, precisely because of the “selfish pursuits” he had feared. He didn’t want people seeking higher office only to further their own agenda. Then again in 1979, only 10 of the 38 states ratified the 27th Amendment, because of Watson, who was a sophomore at the University of Texas, Austin who started this whole situation over writing an essay on government processes all because he took an interested in unratified Constitutional Amendments.