Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dozens Of Congressmen Sleep In Their Offices


Jason Chaffetz: Another useless nut arrives in DC

There aren't a lot of Republican freshmen this year. There weren't many in 2006 either. In fact there're only two in the Senate, rightist kooks from two clueless red states, Idaho and Nebraska. And the House has a handful, including 3 lunatic fringe extremists who defeated right-wing Democrats from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, Nick Lampson (TX), Don Cazayoux (LA) and Tim Mahoney (FL). Another lunatic fringe extremist, Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) beat a more mainstream conservative, Chris Cannon in a primary. Chaffetz already has a nickname, Cot Guy because he arrived in DC with a cot which he plans to sleep on in his office.

Hopefully he'll be showering in the House gym. He's not the only frugal member of Congress to save money by sleeping in his office. Last year we saw that conservative nominal Democrat Lipinski sleeps on his office floor. So do Arizona's two right-wing extremists Jeff Flake and John Shadegg. It's a shame fellow Arizonan John McCain won't let them stay in one of his dozen or so mansions.
Flake said that for him, the decision is based purely on economics.

"I'm a cheapskate. I've got kids to put through college," he said.

"The truth is-- I don't know what the figure is-- but there are dozens and dozens and dozens and dozens. I would put the figure probably at, probably, I don't know, 60 or 70 or 80 members that do that," he said.

Those dozens and dozens and dozens and dozens of U.S. senators and representatives are trying to stretch their paychecks further. Rank-and-file members are being paid $169,300 this year and are scheduled to receive a cost-of-living increase in their paychecks next year.

They receive no housing allowances and are responsible for making their own living arrangements in a city where rents are notoriously high.

Other right-wingers who sleep in their offices include Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), Denny Rehberg (R-MT), Lee Terry (R-NE) and John Sullivan (R-OK) but Tim Walberg (R-MI), who used his office as a dorm and lost his seat, told reporters last year that, "based on what he saw in the health club each morning, as many as 40 other congressmen sleep in their offices. Members and their office staffers aren’t so keen on giving out names, and no offices would confess to knowing who or how many are asleep near their desks."

Chaffetz paid $44.89 for his new cot, which he bought in a local grocery store. He brought it to Washington wrapped in a garbage bag. (See photo above.)



At 10:47 AM, Blogger gjdodger said...

Dick Armey popularized this when he was first elected to Congress. He was protesting the requirement that Members maintain residences in their home districts. Tip O'Neill actually ordered him to stop. So many Republicans are purportedly doing this, I presume it's some sort of organized protest over something.

At 10:48 AM, Blogger John Emerson said...

Congressmen are actually pretty low-ranking members of the power structure. They only make real money once they head committees and start getting the graft, or when they resign and become lobbyists.

At 10:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A hundred and sixty nine thousand is roughly five times what the average American family makes in a year.

At 11:14 AM, Blogger Jimmy the Saint said...

Why don't four or five get together and rent a house? How do you suppose DC bloggers survive(See Yglesias and Ackerman for starters)? I thought I read a story about a year ago or so that 4 or 5 Democratic Senators/Congresscirtters shared a house.

At 11:15 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Why don't we build them a little dorm on Capitol Hill? Mark Foley could be their den mother.

At 11:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

$170,000 is only 3 times the mean income in Washington DC. But the mean is a very misleading statistic because DC has extreme pockets of wealth and poverty.

Compared to members of the DC professional class, who congresspeople compete with for housing near the Capitol, they're making at most 1.5x the salary. And they have to maintain a second residence in their home district.

It's very plausible that Congresspeople from expensive urban or suburban districts can't afford a residence in DC unless they're personally wealthy.

This can't be good for attracting talented people to government -- there ought to be a housing supplement based on cost-of-living in their home district.

As for these wingnuts from desert wastelands like AZ and UT, and OK and NE scrubland -- I have no idea what they're trying to prove.

At 11:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

if you have kids in college and make that kind of money forget about getting any kind of aid. I wonder if any of these freshmen have talked to
the Governor of FLA who just raised
tuition at state schools...

At 11:46 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Yes, but Fl tuition is ridiculously cheap for instate students. Of course that's why many quality educators are bailing

At 1:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The median income in Fairfax, hardly upscale as DC burbs go, is $95k, since we're throwing around average incomes.

The real secret here is that he won't really spend more than two or three nights a week sleeping in his office. Congress doesn't do any real business on Monday or Friday. Fly in Tuesday morning, fly back to the home district Thursday, save yourself $2k/month by sleeping on the couch.

At 4:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sharing a house may not be as desirable as a personal apartment, but it should work for most.

Plus, what about their aids? Won't they need a place to crash? I think sleeping on a cot is a fine alternative until you find a place, but it's not classy.

Best idea: dorms. Co-ed, bipartisan, dorms.

At 4:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Why are there not dormitories available so that all our reps and senators would be required to stay in when ever congress is in session (unless they are back within their districts)?

I figure that a basic floor plan contained within a 35' x 35' would be sufficient to include a decent sized bedroom, meeting area, kitchen, small office /library, and bathroom.

Given the fact that the senate is jealous of all of its prerogatives they could be provided a 42' x 42' basic floor plan (or slightly larger).

The advantage to this idea is that their movements would be more subjected to policing by the so called "independent free press".

The president is basically required to stay within "one place" why not the rest of the government.

I understand that there is a possibility of an easier coup de ta with this idea but that has already happened to all intents and purposes with the present administration.

As Regan said "Trust but verify".


small brained boozo

At 6:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a show for the rubes in their district. If you increased pay to $500,000 a year they would do the exact same thing.

At 7:23 PM, Blogger arc said...

Jason is making this choice. He could move his family to DC, and represent DC, or he can stay in Utah and represent Utah. I am glad he chose to live in Utah.

I have a home/office. I like the short commute. I don't have staff, and that might make things not work. Jason obviously talked to other US Reps that are doing this before hand.
I heard there are 40.

If you total the cost of a room, and total the cost of flying, they almost offset each other.

I wouldn't make Jason look like a martyr.

I do think it a very good message to put across to a nation in debt, with a country in debt. I am proud to have voted for Jason Chaffetz.

At 7:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is bull: I lived in DC/NoVa and had my own apartment and made A LOT less than these jagoffs.

There are also a few group homes for Congress folk...

At 9:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Congresspeople are getting house subsidies, then so should every federal employee who works in DC. Hell, why don't we just call it a day and subsidize EVERYONE'S housing arrangement of choice.

Honestly, if you can't balance your budget at 163,000 dollars and put your kids through college, you're an idiot.

At 9:51 PM, Blogger Chard said...

I was a congressional staffer 20-25 years ago, and I observed considerable variation in the members' living arrangements (note that pay was considerably lower then).

My observation is that living arrangements correlated with two things: job security and personal wealth. House members, with their two-year terms, are unlikely to invest in permanent lodgings. There were a lot of group houses. Those with more personal wealth were more likely to buy houses or rent high-end places.

And once they felt secure in their jobs, they would often trade up. My first apartment in D.C. had been rented by a senator and his wife, who bought a house when he got re-elected. Two of us with pathetically low starting salaries were able to afford the place, but we weren't trying to maintain another home elsewhere.

Many long-time members would basically move to D.C., and have only a token address in their district: a hotel, a small apartment, a room in a staff member's home.

There were really about as many strategies as there were members. But I wasn't aware of many (really any) living in their offices. In fact, I spent a couple of nights in my office; not something you'd really want to do. But I think I also worked in one of the few offices that didn't even have a couch.

At 8:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You all are talking like this is a problem of some sort ... it's not. Jason Chaffetz CHOOSES to sleep in his office. The reason he chooses to sleep in his office is because he plans to be in DC only three days a week ... Tuesday through Thursday -- the days Congress is in session for voting. On Mondays and Fridays, he plans to be in his home district, meeting with constituents and resolving issues at home. He won't be hanging out in DC meeting with lobbyists who don't represent Utah's interests.

What people seem to forget is that DC is the place chosen for all of the U.S. representatives to gather to vote, and that's all. It's not supposed to be a residence.

Jason has said in other media interviews that he doesn't require a lot of sleep. So I imagine that while he's in DC, he'll work long into the night, nap on his cot, then get up early for more work.

I think people will be surprised and eventually impressed with what Jason Chaffetz will accomplish while in office. Like arc, I am proud to have voted for him and pleased to have him represent me.

At 9:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There seems to be a lot of discussion about the living arrangements of the members of congress. The issue we need to explore is the abject lack of decency in BOTH parties. Also, do we really want one party rule in this country??

At 5:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why don't they just stay at a hotel two nights a week? A $200 per night room two days per week would cost $11,200 considering they only convene 28 full weeks per year. Not much for the price of decency! Not to mention ~ who would want to smell their office space?

Sadly, one more sign some politicians have no class.

At 12:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do any Democrats do this? The article seems to say NO. Are they walking the halls in their PJs?
If you have only one residence, do not compare your income. If you have 2 residences and fly between them regularly, then tell us you make less money then them.
Stop spending MY money. More Nukes Less Kooks!

At 5:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There ARE democrats that sleep in their offices. How funny this article is! The republicans must just be making some sort of statement! How dare they!

How dare they only be able to afford to keep ONE home with a family in it. I love the comment that they can just pack up and move their families to DC. Wouldn't that make them ineligable to represent the district that elected them? Oh...wait... Rahm didn't live in Chicago yet he's running for mayor. Nice.

They're not protesting, they're not wealthy AND they CHOOSE not to become part of the DC machine. I make as much money as a congressman but I can't maintain 2 homes and I don't live where the rent is as nuts as DC!

This article is so biased it's pathetic. And most of you people commenting are complaining that you make 3-4x less? So what? The world needs ditch diggers too! They pay for their own flights to and from and maintain a home in their districts. YOU try flying cross country twice a week and making ends meet.

You people disgust me. Someone does something honorable for their family and you demonize them simply because of their political affiliation. But, I'm not surprised. Anything a democrat does is fine and anything a republican does is shady, right?

Get off your own rear ends and run for office. You all scream at the quarterback and lament about how you can do a better job too, right?


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