Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution:
“Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States.”Q: Does this text represent the actual 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?
A: No. The U.S. Constitution has only 27 amendments, the last of which (a limit on Congressional pay increases) was ratified in 1992.
Q: Does this text represent a proposed 28th Amendment?
A: This item is a “proposed 28th amendment” only in the very loose sense that any change to the U.S. Constitution suggested since the ratification of the 27th Amendment is a “proposed 28th Amendment.” However, when this piece hit the Internet back in 2009 it was just a bit of online politicking, not something that had been introduced or proposed as a potential amendment by any member of Congress.
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 one of its elements, 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 died 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.
Q: Could this amendment be passed without Congress’ voting on it?
A: Possibly, not not likely. 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 equation — no Congressional vote or approval is required. However, not once in the history of the United States have the states ever called a convention for the purpose of proposing new constitutional amendments.
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.
Q: Can members of Congress retire with full pay after serving only a single term?
A: No. This is a long-standing erroneous rumor which we have covered in detail in a separate article.
Q: Are members of Congress exempt from paying into Social Security?
A: 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.
Q: Are members of Congress exempt from prosecution for sexual harassment?
A: No. The passage of Public Law 104-1 (the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995, also known as CAA) made a variety of laws related to civil rights and workplace regulations applicable to the legislative branch of the federal government. Section 1311(a) of the CAA specifically prohibits sexual harassment (as well as harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin).
Q: Are members of Congress exempt from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (i.e., “Obamacare”) health care legislation?
A: No. One of the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act 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:
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).
An October 2011 variant of this item is prefaced by a statement made by Warren Buffett: “‘I could end the deficit in 5 minutes. You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election.’” This quote came from a 7 July 2011 CNBC interview in which the Oracle of Omaha addressed the then-current issue of raising the debt limit. The rest of the message however, has nothing to do with Warren Buffett.
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 35 states have filed suit against the Federal Government for imposing unlawful burdens upon them. It only takes 38 (of the 50) States to convene a Constitutional Convention.” Actually, only 34 states are required to convene such a convention.