Outrageous Congressional Perks
Congress is a club with benefits.
From the new OpenTheBooks Oversight Report, "Congressional Membership Has Its Privilege — Salaries, Pensions, Travel, and Other Taxpayer-Funded Perks" quantifies and breaks down the lavish perks associated with serving in Congress.
Here are some major benefits each member of Congress receives:
SALARY: The House Speaker makes $223,500, Majority and Minority Leaders earn $193,400, and the President Pro Tempore makes $193,400. Regular members earn $174,000.
Outside income is restricted to eliminate conflicts of interest. But there are significant loopholes. For example, powerful members can be employed by federal contractors based in their districts.
From the report: During a 13-year period, Vanderbilt University employed Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) and paid him $250,000 in total salary (2005-2018). The university received $2.6 billion in federal contracts, grants, and direct payments from 2014-2018. The powerful congressman serves on the Budget Committee and on Oversight and Government Reform. Located in his district, Vanderbilt’s executives and employees are Cooper’s #1 campaign contributor ($135,261).
PENSION: Members of congress can receive a taxpayer funded pension after five years of service and are eligible to receive a pension as early as age 50. Full pensions are conferred at 62.
These pensions are classified as “private information” and not subject to Freedom of Information Act disclosures. That means taxpayers cannot see how much they are paying. Not one single member of Congress has ever been stripped of their pension even after being convicted of corruption.
In 2012, Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) was approved for $138,400 in worker’s compensation and Social Security disability payments due to his claim of bipolar disorder and depression. Jackson actually argued that Congress made him mentally ill.
OTHER PERKS: In 2019, the U.S. House spent $4.3 million on overseas travel.
Members get a license plate that sometimes allows free parking in illegal zones.
They can sign up for a 72-percent subsidized health insurance plan.
Lets not forget the fund that pays to settle workplace disputes, including sexual harassment. So far that perk has paid out $17.6 million from 275 cases and had an average settlement payout of $63,973. In 2018.
Special thanks to Forbes Magazine. Their article, linked here, has more details.