Should a senator convicted of bribery still receive their taxpayer-funded pension?
Members of Congress are entitled to a pension after serving for five years. The plan also contains cost-of-living adjustments, which less than 10 percent of private sector pensions do.
The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 prevents a member of Congress convicted of a felony (such as bribery) from collecting their pension — but only after they have exhausted their legal appeals. From the original conviction to the end of the legal process can take years, during which they can collect their pension the whole time.
What the legislation does
The No CORRUPTION Act would prevent any member of Congress from receiving their pension starting immediately after their original conviction. If the conviction is eventually overturned at some point during the legal appeals process, they would be retroactively awarded their pension amount owed during that intervening period.
The acronym “No CORRUPTION” stands for No Congressionally-Obligated Recurring Revenue Used as Pensions To Incarcerated Officials Now. It was introduced in the Senate on March 10 as S. 693, by Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV).
A House version was introduced in 2020 by Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC5), though a House version does not appear to have been introduced yet in the current Congress.
What supporters say
Supporters argue the bill prevents taxpayer money from going towards bad actors, especially ones whose convictions are sustained through the entire legal process.
“As elected officials, we have a responsibility to act as good stewards of taxpayer dollars, and this includes preventing Members of Congress convicted of serious crimes while in office from receiving taxpayer-funded pensions,” Sen. Rosen said in a press release. “This bipartisan legislation would close a loophole allowing these politicians to collect pensions for years after being found guilty of committing a crime.”
GovTrack Insider was unable to locate any explicit statements of opposition.
Odds of passage
The current Senate version was introduced by Democratic Sen. Rosen along with one cosponsor from across the aisle: Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL).
It was approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on March 17, by a unanimous consent voice vote. However, although the committee also approved it in 2020, it never received a vote in the full chamber.
The 2020 House version attracted five bipartisan cosponsors, three Democrats and two Republicans, but never received a committee vote.