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Historical Highlights

The Twenty-seventh Amendment

September 25, 1789
The Twenty-seventh Amendment Image courtesy of Library of Congress James Madison of Virginia served as a Delegate, Representative, and Fourth President of the United States.
On this date, the First Congress (1789–1791) submitted the original 12 amendments to the Constitution, crafted by Representative James Madison of Virginia, to the states for ratification. Two years later, the states approved 10 of the amendments and, thus, created the Bill of Rights. The states, however, did not approve the other two amendments, one of which pertained to congressional pay. Two hundred years later, the proposed congressional pay amendment resurfaced with wide public support and the law worked its way through the remaining state legislatures. The measure stipulated that, “No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.” Its provision fulfilled Madison’s belief that Congress should not be permitted to vote itself pay raises arbitrarily without constituents being able to register their approval or disapproval. With no time limit on ratification, the Twenty-seventh Amendment was ratified in May 7, 1992, when Michigan approved it.

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The U.S. House of Representatives has been a popularly-elected body with its membership reconstituted every two years throughout its history.

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