The pay limitation provision was dormant until 1978, when Wyoming legislators ratified the amendment after a congressional pay increase to which they objected. In 1982, while searching for a research topic, University of Texas graduate student Gregory Watson learned about two amendments sent to the states that were never ratified along with the Bill of Rights. The amendment on congressional pay raises was still viable because it did not contain a “sunset provision” limiting the time for ratification. Watson lobbied state legislatures to ratify the forgotten amendment, and 33 additional states passed it between 1983 and 1992.
On May 7, the 27th Amendment is ratified after approval by the Michigan Legislature. Both houses of the 102nd Congress — acting separately — adopt concurrent resolutions agreeing that the 27th Amendment is indeed validly ratified, despite the unorthodox period of more than 200 years for the completion of the task. On May 18, Don W. Wilson, Archivist of the United States, certifies that the 27th Amendment is part of the Constitution.