*
Dan Donovan sit on the bed in his "bedroom" within his Capitol Hill office in Washington, DC.Ron Sachs - CNP
WASHINGTON — this Congress members are resting on the task — and also defending their best to do it.

You are watching: Do congressmen get a housing allowance

Crying poverty between decade-long stagnant salaries and Washington’s steep expense of living, one increasing variety of House lawmakers have actually turned into professional squatters in ~ night, hitting the bag in their Capitol Hill offices — on everything from cots in closets to futons stashed behind constituent couches — to save a couple of bucks throughout the work-related week.

“Washington is too expensive,” stated Rep. Dan Donovan (R-SI), who credits the cot that he sleeps top top in a tiny alcove in his office as the reason he is able to offer in congress while still paying his brand-new York City housing costs.

“If we go come the suggest where you need to rent or have to buy , then only millionaires would certainly be members the Congress,’’ he said. “I nothing think the was the will of our starting Fathers.”

But some of the penny-pinching pols’ colleagues room disgusted through what they contact an unsanitary, undignified practice and also want that banned.

Proposed legislation collection to be presented in the residence as quickly as this month would certainly prohibit political leaders from transforming their offices right into makeshift sleeping quarters, suggesting that the move is violating IRS and congressional principles rules.

“Look, it’s unhealthy. The nasty. Ns wouldn’t want to it is in entertained in somebody’s bedroom,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who is among those spearheading the bill.

“Sleeping in her office is no proper’’ ethically, either, Thompson said. “You get complimentary cable. Free electricity. Free janitorial. Cost-free security. No rent. That a hell of a deal. It probably comes out to $25,000 come $30,000’’ a year the isn’t claimed at taxation time.

‘If we go come the suggest where you need to rent or have to buy , then only millionaires would be members of Congress.’

For the slumber-party pols who capture their nightly zzz’s ~ above office cots ~ daylong lawmaking discussions and fund-raising dinners, the issue is simple: money.

Many of them previously got extra compensation, or a per diem, once they offered in your home-state legislatures to cover their living prices while in ~ the state capitol. New York state legislator in Albany, because that example, acquire $175 because that each day they room in town. In other big cities such together Sacramento, Calif., the everyday stipend rises come $183, and in Austin, Texas, it is $190.

But as members the the House, united state reps get a salary of $174,000 a year — a figure that hasn’t enhanced in practically a decade — and also no housing allowance, while working in a city wherein a sporadic one-bedroom pad deserve to start at $2,000 a month. Meanwhile, they likewise have to pay to maintain a residence in their residence state.

Members of the House and also Senate management seem come fare better, if only due to the fact that they rake in almost $20,000 much more a year, or $193,400. There are couple of if any type of known instances of senators bunking under in their workplaces overnight.

While there is no official tally that the number of House hobos who turn their offices into makeshift bedrooms, interviews through members and several post stakeouts that the conference gym — where the live-in lawmakers shower — placed the calculation at roughly 100 representatives, or more than one-fifth of the governing body. Publicly, about 50 members have actually ‘fessed as much as it.

Their ranks include everyone from home Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and bulk Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to brand-new York Reps. Donovan, Gregory Meeks (D-Queens/LI), Lee Zeldin (R-LI), man Katko (R-Syracuse) and also Brian Higgins (D-Buffalo).

Zeldin, a army veteran, said sleeping on a bed he stores in his office closet makes him more efficient.

“It should be the army in me,” claimed the politician indigenous Shirley. “Literally, indigenous the moment I wake up from the moment I go to sleep, I’m just working without distraction. It’s simply the means I’m wired.”

US Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.), likewise an military veteran, claimed he previously rented an apartment in DC through then-US Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.) wherein they would each pay about $1,800 a month. The all changed when Murphy shed a Senate bid versus Marco Rubio in 2016. Walz, a previous teacher, said he currently sleeps on one office cot.

Tim Walz in the elevator external the US house Members Gym in the Rayburn house Office Building.Ron Sachs - CNP

“I’m no complaining,’’ the said. “It’s simply figuring just how to make all her finances work.”

A home member’s office usually has a agree area, a cramped ar of work space for staff and a different office because that the politician v a seating area and desk. Over there is no kitchen or shower.”

What provides overnights in the office possible is Congress’ members-only gym in the basement the the Rayburn house Office Building. With an annual fee of about $300, members have accessibility to showers, laundry and lockers.

A typical morning routine for the sleepover pols is come tuck away their makeshift bed and also head to the gym because that a workout. They then shower and usually get suited increase there prior to their staffers arrive back at the office roughly 8 or 9 a.m.

“Nobody is walking to watch me favor this,” claimed Higgins one recent morning at the gym if sporting earbuds, a long-sleeve T-shirt and workout pants.

The lawmaker indigenous Buffalo stated he used to separation the rent because that a basement apartment, payment $1,200 a month, but resorted to sleeping on a couch in his office as soon as the university bills because that his two kids began piling up.

“I nothing really view it as free housing,’’ that said. And also “to it is in honest, it’s really convenient to the lifestyle. Yes a gym here. Yes sir a shower head there. There’s a towel company there.

“There’s a laundry company for gym clothing.’’

US Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.) emerged from the conference gym in sweaty scrubs after ~ a workout and bemoaned initiatives by his partner to ban office resting for budget-challenged lawmakers such together himself.

*
Rayburn home Office BuildingShutterstock

“I think that ridiculous,” Scott said. “I can’t afford one apartment.”

Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-Washington Heights/NY) stated couch-crashing isn’t because that him, even though he, too, encounters a high expense of living ago home in new York City.

“My couch is as well hard. I’d wake up up with a stubborn neck every morning,’’ the lawmaker quipped.

Instead, Espaillat said, he found an option: an apartment v rent well southern of $1,800 in surrounding Virginia.

“I’m most likely one the the poorest members of Congress,’’ that said.

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-Manhattan) additionally doesn’t sleep in his office, yet he stated he have the right to sympathize v those who perform — and also worries that Congress won’t stand for America if only wealthy civilization can afford come serve. He support a cost-of-living hike because that members’ salaries, i m sorry haven’t increased since 2009.

But some home members, including brand-new York’s Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-Utica/Rome) and also Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Brooklyn), balk at any type of hint of increasing congressional members’ bottom lines.

The problem is a an especially sticky one because that lawmakers, who already take warmth from constituents for what are viewed as Washington’s bloated spending habits.

“We nothing deserve to talk around a pay raise because that Congress till we balance the budget,” stated Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.).

Mississippi’s Thompson, who is one of those sponsoring the bill to ban congressional sleepovers, said he recognizes that either way, something needs to change.

*
Bennie ThompsonCQ-Roll Call,Inc.

With the assistance of the Congressional black color Caucus, Thompson is questioning the government to worry a report in ~ 180 work on the feasibility of converting any kind of unused space into a dorm because that members of Congress. But he doesn’t agree through a pay raise or per diem for Congress, at the very least at the moment, follow to his office.

As because that those who continue to sleep in their offices, they have to be hit v a taxation burden, Thompson said. Those lawmakers’ life arrangements have to be considered an “accrued benefit’’ in regards to the IRS, the said.

“I sympathize through the members’ situation. Yet they knew what the salary was when they came. And also now they discovered a means around it,’’ claimed Thompson, including that he pays $1,800 because that a little studio apartment in the area for himself.

Calling the office-sleeping “public housing,’’ the added, “I personally view it as a means of beating the system.’’

Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum of Minnesota claimed she’s open to considering a housing stipend, although she wants the office resting to finish — now.

“I wasn’t enabled to sleep in the classroom as soon as I to be a teacher or in the furniture department when I operated at Sears,” she said.

Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) claimed she would consider either a wage hike or housing stipend, calling the a issue of equality.

“I think the too often the indirect expenses of offer in Congress, in specific housing in the DC area, have the right to prevent many an excellent candidates, especially women, people of color and working-class individuals, native running,” Kelly said.

Instead of a pay raise, Minnesota’s Walz suggested transforming former dormitories once supplied for the teenaged congressional pages into real estate for members of Congress, a la Thompson’s study.

Higgins said he believes the Thompson’s bill is all about forcing conference to grant a per diem. And also he’s no complaining.

“People have actually a late that us get cost-free health care, and after ours term, we gain our complete pay — none of which is true,’’ Higgins said. “It’s odd that Congress takes such efforts to undermine its own integrity together opposed to standing up because that themselves together an institution.”

Still, he took issue with the idea of taxing members of congress who currently sleep over.

“I don’t understand if you can contact a benefit,’’ Higgins said.

Some mrs members the Congress said that the exercise of converting a residence member’s office into personal overnight accommodations isn’t simply a issue of restroom or ethics.

“Imagine if you space a staff member and also you need to knock top top the door,’’ stated Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), that is help to breeze the preventative law with Thompson.

“Are walking to be in your skivvies? It’s simply not constant with the position they have.”

Only three female us representatives are known to sleep in ~ night in their offices: Kristi Noem (R-SD), Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) and also Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.).

But Higgins claimed that come make any type of connection v the anti-sex-harass #metoo activity “is a stretch.’’ Couch-crashers work later on than their staff because of their in-house resting arrangement, then increase early and are dressed long before any aides arrive, he and others said.

“If you room respectful of people, you are going to make certain that friend don’t put anybody in one uncomfortable situation,’’ the rep said.

Lawmakers that sleep in ~ the office say their less-than-ideal living arrangement is not a issue of selection — and also frankly, it can be embarrassing.

Keith Ellison walks v the hallway come the US house Members Gym in the Rayburn Building.Ron Sachs - CNP

Staffers through US Rep. Keith Ellison, deputy chairman of the democratic National Committee, no respond to questions around whether he sleeps in his congressional office. Yet he was furious to have been recorded — disheveled and carrying his dress shirt and also a bag of garments — by The post heading to the gym one morning.

“I simply really deep resent you males camping out here,” Ellison (D-Minn.) said. “It’s so wrong.”

He proceeded come complain to Capitol staff around accredited push being in the taxpayer-funded building. Ultimately, no security personnel inquiry The short article to leave.

See more: Does Trump Actually Have A Chance In 2024? Trump'S Back

Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC), who keeps a futon mattress behind his office couch and also lays it on the floor at night come sleep, recognized that the case isn’t comfortable.

But he stated he refuses to obtain a DC home due to the fact that he doesn’t desire to it is in sucked right into the Washington “swamp.”

“You can Google my net worth — I’m not for the rent money,” claimed Sanford, whose network worth Roll speak to estimated to be $2.6 million. “I’m law it due to the fact that it’s practical and it helps me be an ext effective.”

“By the finish of the week, you are prepared for a actual bed,” that admitted. “It keeps it very clear in your mind where house is — and also where home isn’t.”