HIDDEN PAY BUMP
Members of the U.S. House got a nice surprise in early January – what amounts to a $34,000 annual pay increase under new rules adopted in late December by the House Administration Committee which also earlier raised the amount of member office budgets to allow for staff increases. House members basically get paid about $174,000 annually and spend about a third of their time in Washington D.C. during the course of a year, which means maintaining two residences – or in some cases bunking with other members of Congress or even sleeping in their offices while doing the nation’s business. House members will now be allowed to get reimbursed for rent, meals and other incidents while working in the nation’s capital. The rules change was first reported by Bloomberg News and comes as a result of a recommendation from a 278-page report generated by a four-year study conducted by the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, which made a number of wide-ranging suggestions from improving pay for staff to introducing more technology in Congress – you name it. Committee members found that younger House members were finding it difficult to make ends meet when trying to rent in one of the country’s more expensive rental market, leading some to surmise that only those who came to D.C. with wealth could really afford to be there. The cost of the new rule change is estimated to be $15.1 million annually. The House Administration Committee is expected to issue guidelines on the reimbursements in the coming weeks.