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Salaries of US Federal Officials

Legislative, Judicial, Executive


U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his victory speech after being reelected for a second term
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Updated June 25, 2014

White House (Executive Branch)

  • President, $400,000 (2005)
  • Cabinet-level Officials, $180,100 (2005)
  • Deputy secretaries of departments, secretaries of military departments, & heads of major agencies, $162,100 (2005)

Congress (Legislative Branch)

  • Vice President of the US (President of the Senate), $208,100 (2005)
  • Speaker of the House, $208,100 (2005)
  • Senators, Representatives, Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico, and Delegates, $162,100 (2005)

Judicial Branch

  • Chief Justice of the US, $208,100 (2005)
  • Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, $199,200 (2005)
  • Judges, US Court of Appeals, $171,800 (2005)

How Salaries Are Set

Congress is required by Article I, Section 6, of the Constitution to determine its own pay. However, Congress no longer sets salaries for federal officials each year.

Currently, salaries are set by the 1989 Ethics Reform Act, which provides an annual salary adjustment for both White House executives and members of the Senate and the House of Representatives (103 Stat. 1716, at 1769).

Adjustments are based on the percent of change in the private sector wages and salaries element of the Employment Cost Index (ECI) minus 0.5%. They are to go into effect at the same time as, and at a rate no greater than, the basic pay rate adjustments for the General Schedule (GS). GS rates are set by the President.

Judges’ salaries are authorized separately [95 Stat. 1183, at 1200]

Before 1969, Congress set salaries with stand-alone legislation. From 1789 through 1968, Congress raised its pay 22 times.

In 1967, Congress established the Commission on Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Salaries to recommend salary increases for top-level federal officials (P.L. 90-206). After passage of the Ethics Reform Act of 1989, Commission authority was assumed by the Citizens’ Commission on Public Service and Compensation. Although the first commission under the 1989 Act was to have convened in 1993, it did not meet.

In the following table, the CPI Adjustment is to 2005 dollars. Sources are on page 2

Historical Salaries - President of the United States

Year Actual Salary Adjusted*
1789 $25,000 na
1873 $50,000 $812,222
1909 $75,000 $1,624,444
1949 $100,000 $820,590
1969 $200,000 $1,064,310
2001 $400,000 $441,360
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