Thursday, January 26, 2023

A Little-Noticed Rule Change Could Put More Money in House Members' Pockets; House Under Dems Quietly Approved Pay Raise of $34K for Members’ Cost of Living in D.C.

A little-noticed rule change could put more money in House members' pockets
House lawmakers will be allowed to be reimbursed for lodging, meals, and incidentals during this session of Congress thanks to a little-noticed regulation change by a key congressional panel.
It's a major reversal from previous years when lawmakers maintained a residence in the nation’s capital and their home districts without any expectation of extra supplemental funding.
Lawmakers and their staff were made aware of the change in an email sent Tuesday obtained by the Washington Examiner. Members of the House of Representatives make about $174,000 a year, and they have not received a pay increase since 2009. One-bedroom apartments in Washington, D.C., a secondary place of residence for members, can cost more than $2,000 a month.
The Committee on House Administration revised the travel regulations of the Members’ Congressional Handbook late last year, determining a daily rate of allowable per diem determined by the General Services Administration. The reimbursements are only allowed when members are in the District of Columbia for business. The funding is allocated through the Members' Representational Allowance, which covers official expenses.
The bipartisan House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress proposed and approved the new reimbursement policy on Dec. 30 of last year. No members of the panel were opposed. The committee's final report noted that Washington “ranks in the top ten most expensive U.S. cities for renters.” --->READ MORE HERE
AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File
House under Dems quietly approved pay raise of $34K for members’ cost of living in D.C.:
A quiet rule change in the waning days of the Democratic majority of the House will allow lawmakers to seek reimbursements for the cost of living while they are in Washington, effectively providing a massive pay bump that Congress had avoided for years.
The change, which got little notice when it passed in the voluminous year-end spending bill, translates into a subsidy of $34,000 per lawmaker for lodging, meals and other expenses. If all members and delegates tapped into the full amount, the reimbursements would cost about $15 million, according to an analysis by Bloomberg News, which first reported the change.
Each House member makes $174,000 per year, far above the roughly $31,000 a year pocketed by the average American worker. Yet lawmakers often maintain residences in their home districts and the nation’s capital, where the cost of living is incredibly high. Many members share apartments with other lawmakers or sleep on the couch in their House offices.
Lawmakers have debated for years how to cushion the costs of D.C. time for members but have been careful not to court political backlash over raises for politicians.
The higher reimbursements were proposed by Democrats on the House Administration Committee and approved without objections in December. It did not gain much notice until the chief administrative officer of the House circulated an email about it last Tuesday.
The email, which was obtained by The Washington Times, says the Committee on House Administration changed the rules on Dec. 30 to allow members to be reimbursed for lodging — hotels, rentals or other housing costs — meals and incidentals while in Washington on official business up to a daily allowable per diem rate determined by the General Services Administration. --->READ MORE HERE
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