Democratic Congressman: Taxpayers Should Subsidize Congressional Housing

Posted: Jun 24, 2018 2:45 PM

Democratic Congressman Bennie Thompson (MS) introduced HR 5845, known as the No Couches for Congress Act, which would force taxpayers to subsidize living expenses for members of Congress.

If passed, the legislation would bar members of Congress from using "Member’s, Delegate’s, or Resident Commissioner’s office for personal overnight accommodations, and may not use official resources of the House, including employees of the House, to support the use of such office for such purpose.”

The bill also amends the tax code to allow members of Congress to use their homes in Washington, D.C. as a tax write off. They would be allowed to write off living expenses up to $3,000 per month. 

Thompson also suggested that a vacant residence on Capitol Hill be turned into a dorm facility for Congressmen and women. Critics have dubbed the proposed dorm the "Congressional Animal House."

Thompson explained his reasoning behind the "Animal House" to the New York Post:

“I think that building should be available to members of Congress who have found housing costs to be prohibitive,” Thompson told The Post — referring to House members who rake in at least $174,000 a year.

“It can be the affordable-housing-availability option,” he said.

Some of Thompson's colleagues came out against the idea. 

"I don’t know it would be a good idea to have people in a big place like that,” Rep. Mike Bishop (R-MI) told the Post. “The more I think about it, the less likely I would be to support it. It might be a breeding house for something bad.”

Even Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL) said members of Congress can afford to live in Washington, D.C.

“Give me a break,” she said. “If we are going to use that facility for anyone’s more affordable housing options, it should be for interns, for young people, to introduce them to the process.’’

The watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste named Thompson the "June Porker of the Month" for his wasteful spending idea:

The Important Thing Is No Mean Tweets
Kurt Schlichter

On May 16, 2018, Rep. Thompson introduced H.R. 5845, the “No Couches for Congress Act,” which would ban members of Congress from sleeping in their offices.  He also proposed converting vacant residence halls near the Capitol into “affordable” housing for members of Congress, who make $174,000 per year.  He claimed that it would be available for members who found housing costs to be “prohibitive.”

However, the claim that housing is unaffordable is belied by the average monthly cost of a studio apartment in Washington, D.C., which is $1,602, or less than 10 percent of members’ annual salary.  The average American spends 33 percent of his or her annual income on housing.

Thompson's bill currently has 23 co-sponsors, all of whom are Democrats.