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Where the “Representational” Money Goes

capitol dome windowLimiting the pay of members of Congress seems to be a big interest of visitors to WashingtonWatch.com lately. You can see a list of blog posts dealing with congressional pay here. Below we’ve listed a bunch of bills that would hem in congressional pay various ways.

But what about the money members of Congress get to run their offices? That’s no small matter. They get somewhere between $1.3 and $1.9 million each to spend however they want.

Well, not actually. There are pretty clear rules about what they can and can’t spend it on. Take a look at the Committee on House Administration’s “Member’s Congressional Handbook.” The specific things they are allowed to expense using government funds are listed in Section 4.

Earlier this year, a study of what members of Congress spent this money on came out. One story on it is called “What Congress Bought Itself With Your $1 Billion,” and it covers a nine-month period from July, 2009 through March, 2010.

Trolling for partisan excess, we see that the House Democratic caucus spent nearly $115,000 on a retreat for its members. Sketchy. Meanwhile, former Republican Speaker Denny Hastert got over $350,000 to run an office that handles matters left over from his tenure in office—which ended in 2007. A bipartisan $604,000 was spend on bottled water. Take a look at all the study information.

There is at least one bill in Congress to limit the growth of “Members Representational Allowances.” That’s H.R. 3189, The Reduction of Irresponsible MRA Growth Act. The Legislative Branch appropriations act for FY 2010 (the bill that funded Congress’ operations from Oct. 1, 2009 to Sept. 30, 2010) required amounts left in MRAs at the end of the fiscal year to be deposited in the Treasury and used for deficit or debt reduction. H.R. 2656 would make that requirement permanent.

A billion dollars is small change compared to the size of many federal expenditures, but there’s a particularly powerful symbolism to the spending that Congress does on itself. And to the pay that Members of Congress take in. So here, as promised, is that list of bills that aim to restrict the pay of our federal representatives.

Visitor Comments for Where the “Representational” Money Goes RSS 2.0

WashingtonWatch.com Digest – October 25, 2010 – The WashingtonWatch.com Blog

[…] Where the “Representational” Money Goes […]


As all of the members of congress act like they are employees of the local political entity (State) and not like they are charged with performing the duties needed to run the Federal Government ONLY, the pay and expenses should be paid only by the state which elected them.


who is going to rein in the salaries of Senators & the President?
Who is going to change the healthcare of all of them so they have to live as we do??????

Karyn Walsh

Live as we do?!?! When it comes to health care, we should be living as they do…our health care should be as extensive and well-funded as that of our political leaders who afford themselves of their own health care at our expense!

Don Hunt

As long as our Elected Elite are given free gratis to pass strict laws that they are exempt from living by,or adhering to, we the people will never be on top of what is happening in D.C. The Congree and the Senate, some where in the past have placed their status and position above us and ours. Until that is corrected we will never have equal footing with the people whos salary we pay and we have elected to that honor!!!!

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