$50,000: What You're Paying for the Oil Painted Portraits of Politicians

Posted: Dec 13, 2013 11:30 AM

When you walk through the halls of Capitol Hill's office buildings and turn in to a hearing room, you often see large portraits of Congressmen or Senators hanging on the walls. But exactly how much do those fancy portraits cost? And whose paying for it?

Oil painting portraits of lawmakers can cost up to $50,000 a piece and yes, you're paying for it. The good news is, in the spirit of bipartisanship, Republicans and Democrats agree that lawmakers should only be allocated $20,000 in taxpayer funds to have their portrait done.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (L), Representative John Dingell (D-MI) and his wife Deborah Dingell unveil Dingell's portrait as the longest serving member of Congress during an event on Capitol Hill in Washington.reuters

A bipartisan Senate duo says they want to crack down on what they call the government’s “lavish” spending on oil paintings of congressmen, the costs of which can top $50,000 each.

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said in a Thursday press release they are introducing a bill that would only allow $20,000 of taxpayer funds to be spent on each portrait, and would only cover paintings of lawmakers in the line of succession to the presidency.

“At a time when vital services and programs are facing cuts, we need to be looking at every way we can stop excessive spending practices in Washington,” Shaheen said.

Coburn says their bill is a way to rein in excess spending in Washington, and ensure taxpayers are not paying for unnecessary projects.

“Hardworking taxpayers shouldn’t foot the bill for lavish official portraits, especially when government officials spend more on paintings of themselves than some Americans make in a year,” Coburn said.

It should be noted that not everyone gets a painting and according to the National Journal, the process is actually difficult to get through.

Exit question: Shouldn't lawmakers pay for their own portraits? Just a thought.

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