NATIONWIDE – US House of Representative Chief Administrative Officer Catherine Szpindor notified members, on Tuesday, that they can now claim reimbursement that could amount up to $34,000.
As first reported in Bloomberg Government, the rule change allows members reimbursement for meals, lodging and incidentals when they are in Washington, D.C. on official business.
The average House member’s salary is $174,000 a year and the new reimbursement rule “could amount to a subsidy of about $34,000 per member this year, according to an estimate based on current government reimbursement rates,” The New York Times says.
If all 440 current members and delegates requested that maximum amount, the reimbursements would total about $15.1 million.
Cost of living for house members
The House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress proposed the idea.
“While $174,000 is much more than the median household income, members must also maintain homes in both their districts and in Washington, D.C, which ranks in the top ten most expensive U.S. cities for renters,” said the committee in its December report. “And unlike their counterparts in the executive branch and private sector, members do not receive a per diem or reimbursement for their out-of-pocket living expenses when they are at work in Washington.”
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Some new members have discussed their challenges securing housing.
Representative Maxwell Alejandro Frost D-Fla., tweeted about his experience last December.
“Just applied to an apartment in DC where I told the guy that my credit was really bad. He said I’d be fine. Got denied, lost the apartment, and the application fee,” said Frost in a Dec. 8 tweet. “This ain’t meant for people who don’t already have money,”
Just applied to an apartment in DC where I told the guy that my credit was really bad. He said I’d be fine. Got denied, lost the apartment, and the application fee.
This ain’t meant for people who don’t already have money.
— Maxwell Alejandro Frost (@MaxwellFrostFL) December 8, 2022
He later went on to say that he recognizes that he’s speaking from a point of privilege because in two years, his credit will be okay due to his new salary that starts when he enters office.
“We have to do better for the whole country,” said Frost.