Not that kind of ‘House’: Congressional Democrats seek to ban sleeping in offices… for free

Not that kind of ‘House’: Congressional Democrats seek to ban sleeping in offices… for free
The new Democratic leadership is threatening to take the “House” out of House of Representatives by barring congress people from living in their offices – or at least making them pay rent.

House Democrats are considering turning out the freeloaders among their ranks who sleep in their offices rent-free – or at the very least, charging them to camp out in the hallowed halls of Congress, says House Administration Committee Chairperson Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-California). She has asked the Architect of the Capitol, a nonpartisan information resource, to draw up an estimate of a congressional office’s “fair market value” as an apartment and hopes to decide the issue this year.

Many representatives find bumping into half-dressed co-workers in the hallways gross, while others think it’s frugal, even virtuous not to put down roots in the DC “swamp.” It’s unknown how many representatives sleep in their offices, though a recent estimate put the figure between 50 and 100. No senators have admitted to living in their offices, according to McClatchy. While their pay is the same as the House, they are generally wealthier.

And that’s precisely the attraction of making a house of the House: rent in Washington, DC is the 26th-highest in the nation, and members of Congress have to maintain homes in their district. While the starting salary for Congress is a comfortable $174,000, that figure doesn’t go nearly as far if one is trying to keep two homes. 

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, only millionaires would be members of Congress," Rep. Dan Donovan (R-New York) said. "I don't think that was the intent of our Founding Fathers.

How would you feel about attending a meeting in someone’s bedroom?” Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi) asked. A vocal critic of the practice, he is also a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, which sent a letter to the House Ethics Committee in 2017 demanding an end to the “hostile work environment” created by “seeing and at times interacting with members in their sleeping attire, underwear, and even partially nude.”

Free janitorial, free cable, free security, free utilities. Ain’t a bad deal, is it?” Thompson said.

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But Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Kentucky) insists it doesn’t cost the government anything – “they’re going to clean your office anyway” – and it would be different if there were expenses involved.

Lofgren admits she’s at a loss as to how House leadership might enforce a no-congressional-sleepovers policy.

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