Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton would make about $4,700 less as secretary of state than her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice.
Congress late Wednesday lowered the salary for the nation's top diplomat to keep Clinton's nomination from running afoul of the Constitution.
An obscure section on compensation for public officials, the Emoluments Clause, says that no member of Congress can be appointed to a government post if that job's pay was increased during the lawmaker's current term.
In other words, Clinton, D-N.Y., might have been ineligible to serve in the post because she was serving in Congress when Rice's salary was raised to its current level of $191,300. So late Wednesday, the House and Senate quietly rolled the secretary of state's salary back to $186,600, its level in January 2007 when Clinton began her second Senate term.
Even at the lower rate, Clinton would still get a raise over her Senate salary.
Senators now make $169,300 and are expected to receive a raise to $174,000 next year.
President-elect Barack Obama nominated Clinton to the post earlier this month. She is expected to keep her Senate seat pending confirmation by the Senate next year. Republicans and Democrats have said they expect no serious objections to her confirmation.