The annual salary of a member of the U.S. House of Representatives is $174,000.
Yet, Congress finds an infinite number of ways to steal from their constituents and enhance their lifestyles.
A report from The Washington Free Beacon shows one of the last actions of the Democrat-majority House of Representatives before Republicans took back the legislative body in 2022 was sneaking in an “optional $34,000 annual subsidy to pay for their Washington, D.C., housing and meal expenses.”
Although Democrats quietly tucked in the provision into internal House rules, lawmakers from both parties have utilized this taxpayer-funded subsidy.
Congress Sneaks In Stealth $34,000 Pay Raise; Gaetz, AOC Among More Than 200 Lawmakers To Benefit https://t.co/PCyXmeaIuO
— zerohedge (@zerohedge) November 5, 2023
The Washington Free Beacon reports:
In total, 113 Democrats and 104 Republicans have taken advantage of the program, raking in a combined $1.4 million from taxpayers during the first half of 2023, House disbursement records reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon show. Recipients of these funds include at least 17 millionaire Democrats, including Rep. Katie Porter, who reported a net worth of up to $1.8 million in her latest financial disclosure, and House Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D., Mass.), who boasts a net worth of up to $13.5 million.
House Democrats passed the housing subsidy in response to criticism from younger members including Ocasio-Cortez, who have long complained that their $174,000 salary is insufficient to maintain a home in their districts and pay for skyrocketing rent in the nation’s capital. Since taking office in 2019, Ocasio-Cortez has rented an apartment in a luxury Washington, D.C., building that boasts amenities including a rooftop pool and indoor golf simulator.
Ocasio-Cortez’s fellow members of the “Squad,” six of whom voted against a House resolution last week condemning Hamas’s terrorist rampage in Israel, can also thank taxpayers for financing their Washington, D.C., living expenses. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) has billed taxpayers over $14,000 for lodging and meals during the first half of 2023. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) has received $6,800 from taxpayers to pay for her lodging and meals.
And “Squad” member Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D., N.Y.), who was ordered last week to pay a $1,000 fine for intentionally pulling a fire alarm in a House office building in September, has received $6,200 to pay for his rent and meals. Bowman reported in his latest financial disclosure that his wife owns a pension valued at over $50 million, though his office told the Free Beacon in September that the asset is worth just $50,000. The filing has yet to be amended.
According to the report, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has received the “largest share of funds out of any lawmaker.”
The Florida Republican has utilized the taxpayer-funded subsidy for nearly $17,000 in the first half of 2023 to pay for his D.C. living expenses.
Rep Matt Gaetz received the largest share of funds, having charged taxpayers $17,000 for 4 months of his DC living expenses.
Report: Congress Sneaks Through $34,000 Pay Raise for Itself https://t.co/twi90O4utA #gatewaypundit via @gatewaypundit
— 🇺🇸ProudArmyBrat (@leslibless) November 2, 2023
Ginger Gaetz, wife of Matt Gaetz, posted on social media that she has a “chef husband.”
Perks of having a chef husband 🦚 pic.twitter.com/Il9NU0wFDN
— Ginger Gaetz (@LuckeyGinger) October 17, 2023
From Zero Hedge:
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), a critic of past budgetary excesses (whose wife says she’s got a ‘chef husband’), claimed the largest share of the fund.
When pressed about the apparent contradiction, Gaetz justified his actions to the Washington Free Beacon, emphasizing his adherence to the law and his thrifty shopping habits: “I’ve complied with the law, and my cooking is often with discount BOGO products. I try to do the best in the kitchen from the BOGO life,” Gaetz said. He also highlighted his record of fiscal responsibility: “During my time in Congress, I’ve returned over $860,000 to taxpayers from the Members’ Representational Allowance (MRA).”
In January the NY Times shed light on the secretive subsidy, reporting that the Democrats’ move to authorize it through an internal rule change effectively provided representatives with a pay raise sans political fallout. Former Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AK) criticized the lack of transparency, stating, “You can have a good public policy debate on whether congressmen should be paid more… but it really ought to be done in public,” lamenting the secretive process.
Amidst these revelations, Zoe Bluffstone, spokeswoman for the Congressional Progressive Staff Association, directed attention to the plight of congressional staffers, telling the Times that the focus should be on “increasing pay for staffers,” many of whom struggle financially.
The subsidy itself is derived from members’ office budgets and allows for lodging expenses up to $258 per day and meal expenses up to $79 per day. The rules stipulate that members can be reimbursed for hotels or rentals linked to their official duties, though not for mortgage payments, and they do not need to submit receipts—only a certification of incurring the eligible expenses.