by Staff writer
US congress members have resorted to sleeping on the job because of their inability to afford rent.
A decade-long issue of stagnant salaries and Washington’s steep cost of living have turned an increasing number of House lawmakers into professional squatters at night, spending the night in their Capitol Hill offices just to save a few bucks during the work week.
“Washington is too expensive,” said Rep. Dan Donovan, who credits the cot that he sleeps on in a tiny alcove in his office as the reason he is able to serve in Congress while still paying his New York City housing costs.
“If we go to the point where you have to rent or have to buy [in DC], then only millionaires would be members of Congress,’’ he said.
“I don’t think that was the intent of our Founding Fathers.”
US reps receive a salary of $174,000 a year — a figure that hasn’t increased in nearly a decade — and no housing allowance, while working in a city where a sparse one-bedroom apartment can start at $2,000 a month.
Meanwhile, they also have to pay to maintain a residence in their home state.
Members of the Senate seem to fare better, earning nearly $20,000 more than reps members ($193,400) in a year.
Still there are few known cases of senators bunking down in their offices overnight too.
US Rep. Tim Walz who is also an Army veteran said he previously rented an apartment in DC with then-US Rep. Patrick Murphy where they would each pay about $1,800 a month.
But that all changed when Walz’s roommate lost a Senate bid against Marco Rubio in 2016.
Walz, also a former teacher, said he now sleeps on an office cot.
“I’m not complaining,’’ he said. “It’s just figuring how to make all your finances work.”
Reps member Adriano Espaillat said couch-crashing isn’t for him, even though he, too, faces a high cost of living back home in New York City.
“My couch is too hard. I’d wake up with a stiff neck every morning,’’ the lawmaker quipped.
Instead, Espaillat said, he found an option: an apartment with rent well south of $1,800 in nearby Virginia.
“I’m probably one of the poorest members of Congress,’’ he said.
Credit: The New York Post