by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D., Miss.) introduced a bill that would ban members of Congress from sleeping in their offices and would change the tax code to allow House members to deduct their spending on housing in D.C. up to $3,000. The deduction would not apply to senators.
Thompson has also proposed turning a vacant building near Capitol Hill into apartments for House members at the expensive of taxpayers, which critics have dubbed a “Congressional Animal House.”
The taxpayer-watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste criticized Thompson’s legislation and his proposed “taxpayer-funded dorms.”
“On May 16, 2018, Rep. Thompson introduced H.R. 5845, the ‘No Couches for Congress Act,’ which would ban members of Congress from sleeping in their offices,” the group said. “He also proposed converting vacant residence halls near the Capitol into ‘affordable‘ housing for members of Congress, who make $174,000 per year. He claimed that it would be available for members who found housing costs to be ‘prohibitive.'”
“However, the claim that housing is unaffordable is belied by the average monthly cost of a studio apartment in Washington, D.C., which is $1,602, or less than 10 percent of members’ annual salary,” CAGW continued. “The average American spends 33 percent of his or her annual income on housing.”