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If Congress wanted to pass a law that they expected the President to be reluctant to sign, could they legally "bribe" the President to sign the bill by including a Presidential pay raise in it?

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  • 1
    Bribe is a loaded word. “Would it be considered a bribe if…” might be a better question. Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 14:21
  • @MichaelHall good point, but it's moot because they can't do it anyway without waiting for an election.
    – Someone
    Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 14:22
  • Not true. They could include it in the bill, it just couldn’t legally go into effect. Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 14:26
  • @MichaelHall good point; I'll ask another question asking if it would be a bribe.
    – Someone
    Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 14:27
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    It's worth noting that even though the salary of the position is $400k per year, the President usually has so much social status and power that they could easily have access to economic opportunities worth tens of millions if they cared for it, so bribes would have to be at that order of magnitude AT THE LEAST to be meaningful Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 18:13

1 Answer 1

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No.

Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution states

The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be encreased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.

Congress could include an increase to presidential compensation in the bill but it couldn't take effect until the next election.

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    @doneal24 I'm aware of that. (I'm also aware that the optics of signing something because it includes a potential raise for yourself could be why you don't get re-elected.) But the question is can Congress try this, and could the President "accept" the bribe.
    – chepner
    Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 13:40
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    @chepner - It seems tough to characterize a pay increase that happens after an election takes place as a bribe. That seems sufficiently speculative and sufficiently removed in time to not be a bribe. I suppose there could be a loophole where a first term president is currently running for re-election, polling shows him or her to be in a commanding lead and all but certain to win re-election, and Congress passes such a bill. Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 13:41
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    @chepner You might also take into consideration the net worth of recent presidents. The poorest ones in recent history, Ford and Carter, still have $9m in assets. Bush and Obama are in the $40m+ range. How big of a pay raise is necessary to make it worth their while?
    – doneal24
    Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 13:55
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    @user253751 - A bill saying "Congress awards the current President a $10 million one-time payment payable the day after the next Presidential election" would almost certainly be considered an emolument that was effective when the bill was signed not when the emolument was payable (and thus awarded during the period for which the President was elected). Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 15:04
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    @GavinS.Yancey - That would appear to be "during the Period for which he shall have been elected". Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 16:37

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