Blogs have been abuzz over whether the Constitution prevents Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton from accepting the nomination to be secretary of state. History suggests there are ways around the snag.
At issue is Article I, Section 6 of the Constitution, which bars Congress members from taking civil service jobs in the government for which the pay was raised during their current term in office. The provision is designed to prevent lawmakers from benefiting from laws they have passed.
Because pay for members of the president's Cabinet was raised this year -- to $191,300 a year -- the provision would appear to affect Clinton. (Rank-and-file senators make $169,300.)
She's not the first member of Congress to run into the issue and there have been fixes. William Saxbe, a Republican senator from Ohio, faced the same problem when President Richard Nixon nominated him to be attorney general in 1973. The solution: Congress voted to reduce the attorney general's pay, clearing the way for Saxbe to take the post. A similar fix was arranged to allow Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen to become Treasury secretary in 1993.
Clinton "can take the office, she can't take the pay," said Senate historian Don Ritchie.
If Clinton is confirmed, her successor will be named by Gov. David Paterson. He said he will consult with former senators and people around the state before making his decision.
Meanwhile, Gov. Janet Napolitano ascension to head the Department of Homeland Security means a Republican will move into the Arizona governor's office. Under state law, Secretary of State Jan Brewer will assume the reins there. Napolitano doesn't plan to step down until the Senate confirms her appointment, which can't happen before Jan. 20, a spokeswoman said.