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World's Only Superpower Has 32 Legislators Living Out of Their DC Offices

February 11, 2011, 1:52 PM
Couch

Well, not everyone can live at C Street...

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is demanding an investigation into reports that at least 32 members of Congress are living out of their D.C. offices, Jay Newton Small explains:

Sure, most congressmen earn more than $100,000 a year, so you'd think they'd be able to afford at least a studio in Washington. But from that money they must provide for their families, pay for weekly flights home and maintain their residences in their districts. In other words, if you're not already wealthy and live far from the East Coast, this could get expensive very quickly. Not to mention that it's the cool, in thing to be seen as little invested as possible in Washington DC. So, an increasing number of members are proudly living like backpackers, showering at the gym and sustaining themselves on mini-fridges and hotpots in their offices. [TIME, emphasis added]

CREW argues that this arrangement violates House rules. First off, these taxpayer-funded offices are supposed to be used for official business. Second, if members are using their office space as free lodging, that's a valuable perk, which they should be paying taxes on--just like they do for their guaranteed parking spaces.

Third, it's tacky. According to CREW:

In is unseemly for members of Congress to sleep in House offices, thereby increasing the work of housekeeping staff and interfering with necessary maintenance and construction. It is also distasteful for members who sleep in their offices to wander the halls in sweat clothes or robes in search of a shower. Such conduct undermines the decorum of the House of Representatives. [CREW]

I'm not a stickler for decorum, but, yeah. Living out of your office is gross:

"I can't see an excuse that you always want to sleep in your office because you always want to work. You can work from anywhere. So I think it's a question of balance, and I frankly think it's a question of hygiene," Rep. Karen Bass, a first-term Democrat from California told us. [CBS]

CBS interviewed several members living out of their offices about why they're doing this: "The reasons range from making a symbolic statement that they are not part of Washington, proving they are fiscal conservatives, and just saving money." Rep. Paul Gosar told CBS he expected to save $20,000 on lodging and parking by living in his office.

In other words, these self-styled "fiscal conservatives" turn out yet again to be ungrateful, tax-dodging welfare recipients.

More from the Big Idea for Friday, February 11 2011

 

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