If It Saves Tax Money All Congressmen Should Sleep In Their Offices
Independently wealthy members of Congress are seeking to ban their less well-to-do co-workers from saving tens of thousands of dollars every year by sleeping in their offices and cleaning up at the building’s gym.
The mostly male members of the House say that they’re sleeping rough to save time and money. In the end, the answer is… spend more money on Congress, right?
Bill to Ban Congressional Sleeping
So far, the main sponsor of the bill is Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Massachusetts who has in turn received support from other members of the House.
Members who support the bill have excuses from the idea that it’s “gross” to using the bill as a way to get more money for Congressional benefits so that the men and women — and it’s apparently mostly men who do this — can have more money to live off-site.
Rep. Thompson said:
“Look, it’s unhealthy. It’s nasty, I wouldn’t want to be entertained in somebody’s bedroom.”
Since several of these sleepyheads are ex-army, I don’t think that cleanliness is the problem here. Their cots are probably more comfortable than the ground, and ex-army isn’t really synonymous with “leaving dirty socks on the floor.”
Office Cots? Get the IRS Involved!
While the Congressmen argue that they’re going the George Costanza route to save money because their nearly $200k salaries isn’t enough to get a reasonable apartment, others pushing back against the habit say that the pull-out cots violate Congressional ethics rules, and that the IRS should get involved.
According to Rep. Thompson, who may be pushing this bill in order to get a higher payout, the IRS should be considering the office space beds as an “accrued benefit” and should be hit with extra taxes. It’s “public housing,” says Thompson, and he can understand the situation of the members because of the low, low annual pay of $193,400 granted to each elected member.
Thompson lives in an eighteen hundred dollar-per-month apartment while in the city.
Who’s Snuggling Up At Work?
Publicly, around 50 members of the House have admitted to sleeping in their offices but the eager beavers of local media who watch the doors and the Congressional gym say it’s probably closer to 100.
The known members include:
- House Speaker Paul Ryan
- Mayor Leader Kevin McCarthy
- New York’s Rep. Dan Donovan
- New York’s Rep. Gregory Meeks
- New York’s Rep. Lee Zeldin
- New York’s John Katko
- New York’s Brian Higgins
The seems to be a theme going on here, since it’s mostly men who live a short flight or a 4-7 hour drive from the Capitol. They can sleep rough four nights per week then head home late on Friday.
Only three women are known to sleep in their offices:
- Rep. Kristi Noem from South Dakota
- Rep. Lynn Jenkins from Kansas
- Rep. Jaime Herrera Butler from Washington
Can’t say I blame them or say it’s unusual. I’ve worked on more than a few campaigns, and while as a female I have always chosen to go home late at night — I’m conservative, after all! — I have fielded my fair share of late night phone calls from the men surviving on take out and Red Bull.
Women: Dorms, Please
There are fellow women in Congress who appreciate the idea of sleeping on the off-hours of the job but who think that office sleeping should be replaced by small dormitories. After all, flight attendants on planes and rock musicians on tour have access to small cots on planes and buses. And I assume that after going through college, these Representatives are already over the exciting aspects of co-ed living spaces.
Rep. Betty McCollum from Minnesota compared this to the fact that she wasn’t able to sleep at her school when she taught, or at Sears when she sold furniture. Rep. Robin Kelly from Illinois said:
“I think that too often the indirect costs of serving in Congress, in particular housing in the DC area, can prevent many good candidates, especially women, people of color and working-class individuals, from running.”
Another lady Congressman, Jackie Speier from California said that it can create an awkward circumstance for female staffers to wonder whether or not their bosses are going to be in their underwear when they arrive in the morning.
So, say a few of the female members, what should really happen is to convert old congressional page dorms into ones for the adults.
Rep. Thompson and the rest of the Congressional Black Caucus have asked the government to report back in 180 days on the idea of converting dorms without resorting to a pay raise.
But, I’m sure that if it comes back that converting dorms would be expensive, the pay raise is clearly the next best option.
Sources: NY Post