Some congressional members pat themselves on the back as thrifty for finding a double use for their office—but many Black lawmakers are not having it.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus urged the House’s Ethics Committee to investigate the widespread practice of lawmakers using their office as sleeping quarters. Thirty CBC member signed a previously unreported letter on Dec. 13, recently obtained by Politico, that calls into question the “legality and propriety” of the practice.
“There’s something unsanitary about bringing people to your office who are talking about public policy where you spent the night, and that’s unhealthy, unsanitary — and some people would say it’s almost nasty,” said Mississippi’s Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson told Politico.
The lawmakers who are bunking in their offices are getting free lodging, cable, utilities, and cleaning services, the letter underscored. What’s more, they’re “receiving free government benefits worth up to 10 percent of their salary.” Black lawmakers would be viewed by many as fitting a stereotype if they were getting all that free stuff from the government.
Utilizing congressional offices as bedrooms started in the mid-1990s with conservative lawmakers who wanted to show that they are not part of the wasteful spending in Washington. Today, at least 40 lawmakers, most of them Republican, camp in their offices at night. They include Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy from California.
So far, the Ethics Committee has ignored the CBC’s request for a response by Jan. 5. A follow-up letter could be in the works, according to Politico.