|Rep. Jason Chaffetz
As Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) prepares to exit Congress at the end of this week, he told The Hill on Monday that U.S. Senators and House representatives, who are paid a minimum of $174K annually to serve in office, should receive a $2,500 per month housing allowance.
“I really do believe Congress would be much better served if there was a housing allowance for members of Congress,” Chaffetz told The Hill in an interview in his Capitol office, where he sleeps whenever he’s in Washington. “In today’s climate, nobody’s going to suggest or vote for a pay raise. But you shouldn’t have to be among the wealthiest of Americans to serve properly in Congress.”
“There are dozens upon dozens of members living in their offices, and I don’t know how healthy that is long term.”
While Chaffetz said $174,000 a year is a “handsome” congressional salary, he explained that subsidizing lawmakers’ housing costs in the pricey D.C. metro area could actually save taxpayer dollars. If he had a proper home in Washington rather than a cot in his office, Chaffetz said, he wouldn’t need to fly home every week on the taxpayers’ dime, and his wife, Julie, could visit more often.
A 2017 Kiplinger report ranked Washington as the sixth-most expensive city in the country to live.
A $2,500 monthly allowance would cost taxpayers about $30,000 a year per lawmaker, or roughly $16 million a year for all 535 members.
Chaffetz says with a mortgage back home in Utah, a son in law school, his oldest daughter in college and another daughter heading for college soon, he couldn’t afford to rent a place in Washington, D.C.
Word is that Chaffetz has already inked a deal for a high-paying job as a political analyst for Fox News.