Congress could "bribe" the President to sign a bill by including a Presidential pay raise in it, although the raise would not take effect until after an election (i.e. only works in the president's first term and only if (s)he is reelected). Legally, would that be bribery?

  • Even if it were, which is patently absurd, the Speech and Debate Clause would mean that no member of Congress could be punished for it. Sep 2, 2022 at 15:34
  • @NateEldredge good point about the Speech and Debate Clause, but why would it be patently absurd for it to be illegal to use monetary incentives to influence a government official's decisions? The only difference here is that it's another part of the government doing it using taxpayer money, which arguably makes it even more unethical than "normal" bribery.
    – Someone
    Sep 2, 2022 at 15:37
  • It seems to be routine that Presidential salary increases are included in a larger appropriations bill. Check the citations listed for 3 USC 102. Sep 2, 2022 at 15:39
  • Oh, and not only could Congress not be punished for offering the "bribe", the President also could not be punished for accepting it. Unless Congress is going to impeach the President for accepting a "bribe" which they themselves offered? The absurdities are piling up. Sep 2, 2022 at 15:40
  • I'm not sure how to actually answer this question except to say "this is obviously not the intent of the bribery statute". If it had ever been tested, i.e. if the Justice Department had tried to prosecute the President, or all of Congress, for such a "bribe", or if Congress had impeached a President on that basis, I assure you that you would have heard about it. So I presume that no court has ever needed to spend time considering this argument, and most likely they never will. Sep 2, 2022 at 15:44

1 Answer 1


Legally, would that be bribery?

No. It is not conditioned on that individual engaging in conduct to perform the office any differently, and Congress is expressly authorized to do so by law.

Equally important, Congress can't be guilty collectively of a crime, and individual members of Congress are absolutely immune from civil and criminal liability for their official actions under the Speech and Debate Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

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