How lawmakers can reclaim meals and hotel stays in DC at expense — and smoke between votes

Republicans allow SMOKING in offices on Capitol Hill: How lawmakers can reclaim meals, rent and hotel stays in DC at expense — and light a cigar or cigarette between votes — in new Congress

  • Thanks to a bipartisan change approved by last Congress, members of the House of Representatives are essentially getting a pay rise for the first time in a decade
  • Members are now permitted to be reimbursed for lodging (including hotels, rentals), meals and incidentals while in DC on business
  • In other recent changes, lawmakers now smoke indoors and pungent tobacco scents waft through the hallways

Lawmakers are introducing some convenient new changes on Capitol Hill at this convention, including smoking indoors and putting housing and food on the taxpayer’s tab.

Thanks to a bipartisan change approved by last Congress, members of the House of Representatives are essentially getting a pay rise for the first time in a decade.

In an email from DailyMail.com, the House Chief Administrative Officer notified the offices of the change. Members are now permitted to be reimbursed for lodging (including hotel, rent or other housing expenses), meals and incidentals while traveling on business in Washington, DC

Expenditures are capped at a daily rate by the General Services Administration. GSA daily rates vary from $190 to $260 depending on the season. The daily rate for groceries is currently $79 per day, meaning a DC lawmaker could spend as much as $340 per day on congressional business.

While hotels and rents may be expensed, mortgage payments may not.

Funding comes from a Members’ Representational Allowance, the account that pays official expenses.

Lawmakers are introducing some convenient new changes on Capitol Hill at this convention, including smoking indoors and putting housing and food on the taxpayer's tab

Lawmakers are introducing some convenient new changes on Capitol Hill at this convention, including smoking indoors and putting housing and food on the taxpayer’s tab

In other recent changes, lawmakers are now smoking indoors and pungent tobacco smells waft through the hallways outside the House Rules Committee, where Chairman Tom Cole, R-Okla., is known to puff on a cigar between votes.

Washington, DC law prohibits smoking indoors, but this law does not apply to private convention offices. Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi banned smoking in much of the Capitol complex in 2007, when Democrats were in control, although members were still allowed to do so in their own offices.

Members of Congress earn an annual salary of $174,000, an amount established in 2009. Congressional salaries are earmarked for a cost-of-living increase each year, but Congress has voted not to accept the increase every year since 2010.

The property management committee approved the refund on Dec. 30, with no lawmakers on the panel opposed to the change.

The idea came from the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress.

“Unlike their counterparts in the executive branch and in the private sector, members do not receive a subsistence allowance or reimbursement of their living expenses while working in Washington,” the committee noted in its final report.

In other recent changes, lawmakers are now smoking indoors and pungent tobacco smells waft through the hallways outside the House Rules Committee, where Chairman Tom Cole, R-Okla., is known to puff on a cigar between votes

In other recent changes, lawmakers are now smoking indoors and pungent tobacco smells waft through the hallways outside the House Rules Committee, where Chairman Tom Cole, R-Okla., is known to puff on a cigar between votes

Some lawmakers have complained that they are struggling with maintaining dual residency with the congressional salary. Others have found that they still earn far more than the average American.

‘Ppl rag on Congress’ salary & it’s easy to get political points with it but many don’t realize that it requires paying 2 rents, labor costs can’t be deducted etc. The result is big gestures to announce that they / Employees don’t get COLA adjustments, but then trade stocks to compensate – worse!’ Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter in December 2021.

The committee suggested raising lawmakers’ salaries would reduce “polarization” because “more candidates are willing to run for office if they view public service as an economically viable career.”

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Bradford Betz

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