Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) has just days left before he gets to return to his own bed in Utah, leaving his Capitol Hill office cot behind for good. But before he goes, Chaffetz has called for a $2,500 monthly housing stipend to help lawmakers afford living in D.C.
"Washington, D.C., is one of the most expensive places in the world, and I flat-out cannot afford a mortgage in Utah, kids in college, and a second place here in Washington, D.C.," Chaffetz told The Hill. "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."
Chaffetz agreed that $174,000 is a "handsome" salary for a congressman but added that the extra $30,000 a year would "allow the non-millionaires to participate and you would be able to have your spouse join you here. If I wasn't buying as many airline tickets, it would ultimately be less expensive."
A stipend of $2,500 a month would run taxpayers around $16 million a year if all 535 members of Congress received it. As of May 2017, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in D.C. was $2,091 a month.
"I really do believe Congress would be much better served if there was a housing allowance for members of Congress," Chaffetz said, adding: "There are dozens upon dozens of members living in their offices, and I don't know how healthy that is long term."