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Posts Resurface Made-up ‘Congressional Reform’ Bill


Quick Take

Viral Facebook posts claim President Donald Trump has endorsed a supposed “Congressional Reform Act of 2017.” But no such bill exists. The text in the posts has circulated for years without references to Trump, and it is riddled with false claims.


Full Story 

There is no proposed legislation before Congress called the “Congressional Reform Act.”

But Facebook posts shared by more than 67,000 people purport that President Donald Trump “is asking everyone to forward this email” about a supposed “Congressional Reform Act of 2017.”

In reality, online chatter about that supposed bill — and the ideas that follow it in the post — precedes the Trump administration. We wrote in 2011 about emails circulating the same text, which we found to be a blend of false, misleading and opinion-based statements. Some examples:

  • The post claims that the bill would “no longer” allow Congress to “vote themselves a pay raise.” But, as we’ve written before, that’s already the case. Pay raises are determined by an automatic adjustment formula, which takes effect unless Congress statutorily denies it, according to the Congressional Research Service. Congress has denied the raise every year since 2009.
  • It also says, members of Congress must “abide by all laws they impose on the American people (i.e. NO MORE INSIDER TRADING!!!).” But that’s largely the case now. The 1995 Congressional Accountability Act, for example, requires members to “follow many of the same employment and workplace safety laws applied to private business.” As for insider trading, the STOCK Act signed in 2012 bars members from making trades based on nonpublic information obtained through their official duties. Rep. Chris Collins recently pleaded guilty to insider trading and resigned.
  • The post says “Congress (past, present, & future)” must participate in Social Security, and that “[a]ll funds in the Congressional retirement fund” must “move to the Social Security system immediately.” In fact, members of Congress have been required since 1984 to pay Social Security taxes and participate in the system, according to a CRS report.

A search of legislation introduced in Congress since Trump took office shows there has been no “Congressional Reform Act” proposed. (In 2017, there was a proposed “Congressional Pension Reform Act,” which dealt strictly with proposed pension system changes; the legislation did not advance beyond its introduction.)

We also could find no evidence to suggest that Trump is “asking everyone to forward” the online message. A search of the president’s tweets through the Trump Twitter Archive, for example, shows he has never tweeted about a “Congressional Reform Act.” He has tweeted about “criminal justice reform,” “immigration reform,” “tax reform” — among other “reforms” — but not “congressional reform.”

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.

Sources

Congressman Christopher Collins Pleads Guilty To Insider Trading Scheme And Lying To Federal Law Enforcement Agents.” Press release, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. 1 Oct 2019.

FACT SHEET: The STOCK Act: Bans Members of Congress from Insider Trading.” Press release, Obama White House. 4 Apr 2012.

Fichera, Angelo. “Post Misleads on Congressional Salaries, Social Security.” FactCheck.org. 14 Jun 2019.

Isaacs, Katelin P. “Retirement Benefits for Members of Congress.” Congressional Research Service. 8 Aug 2019.

Jackson, Brooks. “Congressional Reform Act.” FactCheck.org. 18 Mar 2011.

Trump Twitter Archive. trumptwitterarchive.com. Accessed 21 Oct 2019.