Rep. Jason Chaffetz thinks members of Congress should receive a housing stipend, saying in an interview that Washington “is one of the most expensive places in the world” as he pointed to “dozens” of members who live out of their offices.
“I think a $2,500 housing allowance would be appropriate and a real help to have at least a decent quality of life in Washington if you’re going to expect people to spend hundreds of nights a year here,” the Utah Republican told The Hill. “There are dozens upon dozens of members living in their offices, and I don’t know how healthy that is long-term.”
Chaffetz made the suggestion as he prepares to leave office, having announced he would resign at the end of June.
“I really do believe Congress would be much better served if there was a housing allowance for members of Congress,” he said. “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.”
Chaffetz — who said he sleeps in his office whenever he’s in Washington — noted, “I flat-out cannot afford a mortgage in Utah, kids in college and a second place here in Washington, DC.”
Members of Congress receive an official salary of $174,000 (leadership positions receive a slightly higher salary of $193,000). A report from the Center for Responsive Politics estimated that the median net worth of a member of Congress was about $1.1 million in 2014 (the most recent year for which data was calculated).
Chaffetz also hinted in his interview that he could remain in politics despite leaving Congress — asked about a potential run for governor of Utah in 2018, Chaffetz said he wouldn’t “close the door on anything.”
Still, Chaffetz said his decision to resign “is not some clever move to do ‘A’ with the real intention of doing ‘B’,” he said. “I’ll put my head down, do this other stuff for a couple years and then wake up and see what the possibilities are.”