Congressmen Are Complaining That Their $174,000 Salaries Are Not Enough To Live On
Washington, D.C. is an exceptionally expensive place to live. A modest, one bedroom apartment can cost at least $2,000 a month. Some members of the House of Representatives have said that the high cost of living, combined with the need to maintain a household in their home districts and salaries that have not increased in over 10 years, has led to some representatives choosing to sleep in their offices.
Members of the House of Representatives are paid $174,000 a year. That sounds like a healthy salary, but the representatives argue that their salaries are not sufficient to cover the cost of life in D.C. while also supporting their home state residences.
Representative Dan Donovan (R-SI) explains that Washington, D.C. is prohibitively expensive, adding, “If we go to the point where you have to rent or have to buy [in D.C.], then only millionaires would be members of Congress. I don’t think that was the intent of our Founding Fathers.”
There is not an official count of representatives who live in their offices while in D.C., but there are many, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI). Members of both parties have admitted to the practice.
While some members find sleeping in their offices to be a cost-effective way to serve, others find it both improper and unethical. Some have proposed legislation in the House to prohibit the practice.
Representative Bennie Thompson (D-MS) said, “Look, it’s unhealthy. It’s nasty. I wouldn’t want to be entertained in somebody’s bedroom.” Thompson is among the representatives looking to prohibit other representatives from sleeping in their offices. Thompson also points to ethical concerns saying, “You get free cable. Free electricity. Free janitorial. Free security. No rent. It’s a heck of a deal. It probably comes out to $25,000 to $30,000.’’
Interestingly, there are no reports of Senators sleeping in their offices. Senators are paid $193,400 a year. It appears that extra $20,000 goes a long way to helping Senators pay for housing costs.