In the final days of the Democrat majority of the House, Democratic lawmakers quietly slid a major pay raise for House members into their year-end spending bill.

This new rule gives lawmakers in the lower chamber, who already make $174,000 per year, an additional $34,000 for lodging, meals, and other expenses while on official business in Washington D.C.

House members also receive annual allowances averaging about $1.27 million meant for staffing and managing their offices.

If all 440 current members and delegates utilize the maximum amount of funds available, these reimbursements would total about $15.1 million.

The issue was not debated on the House floor because it was classified under the House’s internal rules instead of in annual spending bills. For this reason, many House members were only just made aware of the change.

On Tuesday, the chief administrative officer of the House sent out an email saying that offices should wait for additional guidance before submitting reimbursement requests, alerting many lawmakers of the change for the first time.

Republican lawmakers are now arguing that this should have been up for public debate, while proponents of the bill insist that the raise is necessary for more people to afford to serve in Congress.

Former Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) expressed his disappointment that this was not discussed on the House floor. He said, “You can have a good public policy debate on whether congressmen should be paid more in order to attract a better bunch, and you could have a reasonable debate on inflation adjustments, but it really ought to be done in public.”

In the committee’s final report on the new reimbursement rule, they shared their reasoning, saying, “Unlike their counterparts in the executive branch and private sector, members do not receive a per diem or reimbursement for their out-of-pocket living expenses when they are at work in Washington.”

Cushioning the costs for lawmakers when they must travel to D.C. has been a long-running debate.

Many House members do need to maintain two residences, one in their home state and one in D.C., which is a very expensive city to live in. Often, members will share apartments with each other or stay on the couch in their House office. However, they still make much more than the average American.

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