Congress: A Good Job at a Good Wage Its a Hard-knock Life Why do congressmen put up with the rigors of their jobs term, after term, after term? Option 1: They are true servants of the people, and have sacrificed themselves for their constituents. Option 2: They are just plain nuts. Option 3: There are incentives.
Then 1789 1795 House: Per Diem $6.00 No limit on Honoraria Senate: Per Diem $6.00 No limit on Honoraria
Now 2013 House: Salary $174,000 Per Diem $0 Honoraria $0 Senate: Salary $174,000 Per Diem $0 Honoraria $0
Speaker of the House 2002: $192, 600 2011 2012: $223, 500 When the gig is up: Up to $1,000,000 per year for five years after leaving office to tire up loose ends related to speakership Other Leaders
Majority and Minority Leaders, Senate President Pro Tempore: 2002: $166, 700 2012: $193, 400 Other Perks Franking Privilege Since 1775, members of Congress have the privilege of sending mail to their constituents using their signature instead of a postage stamp. Congress then reimburses the U.S. Postal Service using legislative branch appropriations. This privilege is regulated
by federal law and may only be used for matter of public concern. It cannot be used, for example, to solicit campaign contributions or votes. Each Member is allowed a certain allowance for franked mail that is based on a formula. That formula sets the allowance at three times the rate of a single piece of first class mail multiplied by the total number of non-business addresses in the Member's district. The allowance is then set at 45% of the calculated number. Other Perks Immunity
Article I, Section 6 of the Constitution provides senators and representatives the privilege of immunity, or freedom from arrest. This does not mean that members of Congress may commit crimes with impunity. It does mean, however, that senators and representatives have absolute freedom of speech while conducting congressional business. Members of Congress cannot be sued for libel or slander regarding any statements made on the floor of the House or Senate or in official reports Other Perks
Library of Congress The Library of Congress is the world's largest library. One of the library's top priorities is to provide comprehensive research to Congress in response to requests received by the Congressional Research Service. Specialists at both the Law Library and Congressional Research Service continually provide objective, detailed information to members of Congress on a variety of topics. Other Perks
Health Benefits As federal employees, members of Congress have access to one of the most generous health insurance programs in the country. Senators and representatives may choose from 10 different plans, all of which are subsidized by taxpayers. Members of Congress also enjoy preferential access to Washington's federal medical facilities. Additionally, the Los Angeles Times reports, lawmakers have access to their own pharmacy, doctors and nurses at a clinic located between the House and Senate chambers.
Allowances The House: representatives are allowed to spend more than $900,000 on salaries for up to 18 permanent employees. They get about a quarter-million dollars more for office expenses, including travel. The Senate: The average allocation for fiscal 2010 was more than $3.3 million. Personnel money varies depending on how big of a state a senator represents a senator from New York is going to get more than a senator from Montana. But for starters, each senator is given a $500,000 budget to hire up to three legislative assistants. There is no
limit on the number of staffers a Senator may have. Car Lease program Office budget includes leasing automobiles at taxpayer expense: WASHINGTON (AP) Republicans taking control of the U.S. House in January say they'll trim members' office budgets by 5%, but Congress members will keep a few perks, including taxpayer-paid leases for vehicles ranging from compacts to SUVs to offices on wheels for their personal use. Members of the House get an annual allowance and have discretion over how to spend it. As of September, 101 members about a quarter of the
435-member House had paid-for auto leases. Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., made news when word leaked that his son had been driving his 2010 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid that costs taxpayers $1,251.66 a month. Conyers said it was inappropriate and paid $5,682 to the Treasury to reimburse taxpayers. More Leases The office of Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, didn't return calls about his lease of $1,628.47 a month. A story in Politico earlier this year said he spends that amount for a GMC Yukon used in his district. Next on the list: Democrat Pedro Pierluisi, resident commissioner of
Puerto Rico and, as such, a nonvoting member of the U.S. House. He has a GMC Yukon Hybrid his office said is used for "town visits, agency meetings and public activities" across the island, where vehicles are more expensive than in the continental U.S. It costs $1,400 a month. But the review found many less expensive leases, as well, such as Hinchey's. Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La., had a lease in September of $182 a month, a lot less than the $897 a month Taxpayers for Common Sense found his office was spending for a Yukon two years ago. A Place to Sit
Nice Digs: A seat in Congress comes with office space, and lots of it. Not only do members move into an office on Capitol Hill, they maintain space in their home districts and states too. For senators, this benefit has a pretty high cap - up to 8,200 square feet. The CRS report said there is "no restriction" on the number of offices they can open in federal buildings in their home states. Plus senators get to shop at the equivalent of Congress' IKEA -- furniture supplied through the Architect of the Capitol. Every senator gets $40,000 -and potentially more -- for furniture in their home-state offices.
Tax Deduction Members of Congress can deduct up to $3,000 for expenses while outside their home districts or states. Insurance & Retirement All members of Congress can sign up for the same health plan and life insurance policy available to other federal workers. But there's more. In an age when the 401(k) often becomes a substitute for a
pension, representatives and senators enjoy access to both. First, members of Congress can sign up for a 401(k)-style "Thrift Savings Plan," a tax-deferred investment in which members' contributions are matched up to 5 percent. Pension, Social Security Congressmen qualify for social security, and there's a pension plan. The pension payments and eligibility vary -- in a nutshell, members are eligible for an immediate, full pension at age 62 if they've served five years or
more; they're eligible at age 50 if they've served 20 years; and they're eligible at any time after they've served 25 years. The annual amount of the pension depends on a lawmaker's salary and the number of years he or she served -- typically the amount is considerably less than a lawmaker's outgoing salary. As of 2011 495 retired congressmen were receiving federal pension benefits 280 had retired under CSRS and received an average of
$70, 620 annually. 215 had retired under FERS and received an average annual salary of $39,576. Total annual pensions paid to former congressmen is over $38,000,000. A couple draw more than they were paid annually in congress. About 17% draw pensions greater than $100,000. If Nancy Pelosi Had Retired in 2010 If then Speaker Nancy Pelosi had elected to retire or been
defeated in the 2010 elections, her retirement pension would have been calculated using the following information: She entered congress in 1987 at mid-year as a result of a special election. If she had retired at the end of 2010, she would have had 22.5 years of service. Her first 20 years would have been multiplied by 1.7 for a total of 34 percent. Then her years of service over twenty would add an additional 2.5 percent, for a grand total of 36.5 percent. Using $220,000 as the average for her highest 36 months would mean that her pension would have been $80,300 annually or $6,691 monthly, before deductions.
Lets Not Work Too Hard! The Senate has averaged about three working days on Capitol Hill - three-and-a-half if you count Monday nights. Plus there are several breaks, which Congress calls "work periods," penciled in the calendar throughout the year. This year, members of Congress returned to their districts for a Presidents Day break, a spring break, a Memorial Day break, an Independence Day break and a summer break. They also break in the fall of election years to campaign. Of course, that's good old-fashioned time off
for senators not up for re-election. Capitol Conveniences Members only parking, elevators, dining rooms, gyms, tennis courts Travel perks: dedicated airline reservation lines, open flight reservations, free parking at both Dulles and Reagan Even in Death
Full years salary paid to survivors. Burial in Arlington or other national cemetery. Free grave marker, just like a veteran. Spouse eligible for burial, too. Ho, Ho, Ho, Who Wouldnt Go?!
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