Bending the rules for Hillary Clinton

If President-elect Barack Obama wants Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton confirmed as his Secretary of State he may have to depend on Congress bending the rules to give her the job.

Interesting irony. The man who campaigned on honesty and openness in government may need a backroom deal from the good old boys on the Hill to complete his cabinet selections.

Seems Clinton’s appointment runs afoul of the law because the salary for her new job went up during her time in the Senate. The rules say a member of Congress can’t take a cabinet position if the pay went up while they were in office making laws that affect things like salary hikes for Presidential appointments.

So Senate leader Harry Reid is scrambling to come up with a solution to fix the problem. One solution is to simply lower the salary for Secetary of State back to what it was before the last salary hike. Since Clinton is a multi-millionaire, she doesn’t need the money.

Reports The New York Times:

Senate Democrats were working Tuesday to put together legislation making it possible for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to become secretary of state despite a constitutional clause that some critics argue should bar her from joining the cabinet.

The issue may seem esoteric but it generated attention Tuesday among legal scholars and bloggers arguing over whether it would be unconstitutional for Mrs. Clinton to serve as President-elect Barack Obama’s secretary of state because the salary for her new office was increased while she served in the Senate.

Judicial Watch, a watchdog group that made a name for itself investigating the Clinton administration in the 1990s, raised the matter Tuesday with a statement asserting that Mrs. Clinton was ineligible to become secretary of state because of the so-called “Emoluments Clause” of the Constitution. By the end of the day, Senator Harry M. Reid of Nevada, the Democratic majority leader, was consulting with Republican colleagues in hopes of putting together a bill to address the issue.

The issue stems from Article I, Section 6, of the Constitution, which says: “No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time.” Emoluments refers to compensation.

After Mrs. Clinton’s last Senate election in 2006, the salary for secretary of state and other cabinet positions was increased to $191,300 from $186,600. In the past, Congress has gotten around this by passing a resolution cutting the salary for the office at stake back to what it was before the nominee’s most recent election.