When most of us think about Members of Congress, we picture accomplished individuals (well..maybe some of us don’t…but that’s another post for another time) who make a reasonable amount of money. But, is that how Congressmen think of themselves? A recent article in the New York Post is highlighting a disturbing trend where Congress members are foregoing home rental or ownership in favor of sleeping right in their offices – and their reason may shock you.
• All of the Congressmen accused of overnighting at their offices, including Dan Donovan, are allegedly claiming they “cannot afford” to rent or own a home in Washington. The area’s real estate prices have skyrocketed in previous years.
• The “homeless” Congressmen are mostly accusing the government of putting them into poverty by locking salaries for the last decade. It’s true that salaries have not shifted for some time, but this is largely the case across many industries, not just government.
• Rep. Dan Donovan attempted to explain why he overnights on a cot in his office – a practice many find unethical. “Washington is too expensive,” he said. “If we go to the point where you have to rent or have to buy [in DC], then only millionaires would be members of Congress.”
• Donovan also believes that if Congressmen are forced to pay for lodging, they will effectively be unable to run for Congress because they will be no longer able to afford to support themselves. They currently make approximately $174,000 per year.
• The average price for a home in the area is about $500,000. A standard rental in an area close to the office would run approximately $1,800 per month, or $21,600 per year. Of course, that rate would be higher once supplies and utilities are factored in, but it still feels a far cry from poverty based on the $174,000 rate.
• Rep. Ken Buck finds the entire situation ludicrous, pointing out constituent issues with bloated salaries as reason enough to avoid paying more. “We don’t deserve to talk about a pay raise for Congress until we balance the budget,” he says. “I personally see it as a way of beating the system.’’
• Rep. Jackie Speier outlined exactly why the practice is such a problem for other members of Congress. “Imagine if you are a staff member and you have to knock on the door,’’ she said. “Are they going to be in their skivvies?” But not every woman agrees – Kristi Noem, Lynn Jenkins, and Jaime Herrera Beutler all sleep in their offices when they’re in.