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Rep. Speier: 'Unseemly' for Lawmakers to Live in Their Offices

Rep. Speier: 'Unseemly' for Lawmakers to Live in Their Offices
Rep. Jackie Speier (AP)

By    |   Friday, 15 December 2017 08:45 AM

Some lawmakers are addressing the practice of members of Congress living in their offices, which has drawn attention in the wake of sexual harassment scandals, BuzzFeed News is reporting. 

"I think it's just unseemly. I'm not saying that these persons are engaged in sexual harassment. It is just wrong," Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., told BuzzFeed.

Several members say they believe more than 100 lawmakers sleep in their offices.

No rules prohibit lawmakers living in their office, a move that has been seen as frugal and traditional. Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, is credited with starting the practice, according to BuzzFeed.

Some Democrats sleep in their offices, but those who live in their offices are mostly Republicans, particularly from the 2010 tea party movement, in which lawmakers promised fiscal responsibility, BuzzFeed reported.

"We should prohibit living in your offices, and we should allow members to deduct the cost of their living expenses up to a certain amount," Speier said. 

No sexual harassment scandals have been tied to lawmakers who live in their offices, but Rep. Cheri Bustos told BuzzFeed that in the current atmosphere, the situation should be addressed.

"I worked in the private sector my entire career until coming here. And you just think about some of these things that we're hearing about, and the things that are viewed as —that just happen out here. That's not normal. It's not normal to use your office as your bedroom," Bustos told BuzzFeed.

House members typically earn $174,000 in yearly salary, and rent in D.C. is around $2,000 per month. BuzzFeed reported that some lawmakers point out that they already have mortgages in their home states, and see little need to spend rental fees for their time in D.C.

"It's not as creepy as it sounds," said Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan. "(Staff members) are never in my office when I'm getting ready for bed or sleeping," Jenkins told BuzzFeed.

Some lawmakers see living in their offices as part of a tradition. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., said that his constituents asked him if he would live in his office like his predecessor.

"They view it that if I'm that careful with my own money, they feel a little better about letting me be careful with their money, too," Huizenga said in the BuzzFeed report.

The Office of Congressional Ethics declined to comment for the report on whether it kept track of who was living in their offices or whether there any calls to address the practice, according to BuzzFeed.

Former Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who slept in his office during his congressional tenure, said in June that Congress members should get a housing allowance, according to The Hill.

"You shouldn't have to be among the wealthiest of Americans to serve properly in Congress," he said in the interview.

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Some lawmakers are addressing the practice of members of Congress living in their offices, which has drawn attention in the wake of sexual harassment scandals, BuzzFeed News is reporting.
jackie speier, lawmakers, sleep, offices
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2017-45-15
Friday, 15 December 2017 08:45 AM
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