- House Democrats made a rule change in the final days of their majority last year that will reimburse them for the cost of lodging, food, and travel while on official business in DC.
- The provision could amount to a subsidy of about $34,000 per member this year, according to an estimate based on current government reimbursement rates.
- The increase is aimed at helping members defray the costs of maintaining secondary housing in DC, where living costs are among the highest in the United States.
A rule change proposed by Democrats on the House Administration Committee in the final days of their majority last year could provide House members with long-overdue compensation for the costs of lodging, food, and travel while on official business in Washington.
This provision was approved with no objection in December but was not widely communicated to rank-and-file members until recently, which could amount to a subsidy of around $34,000 per member this year, according to an analysis by The New York Times using the rates set for the 2023 fiscal year.
The increase in compensation is aimed at helping members defray the costs of maintaining a secondary residence in Washington, where living costs are among the highest in the United States.
While some Republicans have criticized the change for being made without public debate, it is worth noting that the rule change was a bipartisan recommendation suggested at a hearing last year by a former Republican lawmaker, and is aimed at addressing affordability concerns for members, especially younger ones.
According to The New York Times, Zoe Bluffstone, a House Democratic staff member said: “Too many congressional staffers live paycheck to paycheck, take on debt, or work second jobs in order to survive due to persistently low wages on the Hill,” she explained. “It’s already not sustainable for so many, but if more of the office budget gets siphoned away, we could see cuts in staff pay and even greater increases in turnover, which hurts the institution of Congress as a whole.”