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Members, U.S. House of Representatives are Consistent

The National Taxpayers Union reports has completed an analysis of the office expense accounts (or Members Representational Allowances, or MRA’s to use Capitol Hill jargon) for members of the U.S. House of Representatives for 2005. No surprise, but there was a 20% increase from 2001 to 2005.

A couple of the more interesting findings include:

The top-ranked office spender, Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT), used all but $375 of his $1.3 million allowance. The lowest-ranked spender, Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA), did without $518,036 of his MRA (which came to $1.2 million). Had every Congressman been as frugal as Goode, House office spending would have fallen by $205.4 million that year.

Although there were exceptions to the rule, the average Republican generally spent less (92.8 percent of the MRA) to run his or her office in 2005 than the average Democrat (95.9 percent of the MRA). However, partisan differences were sharper on the ends of the scale. Of the 50 top office spenders (on a percentage-of-MRA-spent basis), 37 were Democrats. Of the 50 most frugal office spenders, 38 were Republicans. In one category -- spending on franked mail postage -- Republicans represented 29 of the top 50 (when adjusted to cost per address).

"NTU also compared scores on its annual Rating of Congress to determine if there was any link between how Members spend on their offices and how they vote on the rest of the federal budget. The NTU Rating uses every roll call vote affecting fiscal issues (a total of 201 House votes in 2005). The 50 biggest office spenders had an average score of 27 percent “

What is the significance of how your Representatives handle their office accounts? According to David Keating, NTU Senior Counselor and project manager:

"Anyone who wonders why Congress can't seem to get a grip on wasteful spending in the federal budget should examine House Members' careless handling of their own office budgets."

BTW, Arlington’s representative in the House of Representation, Jim Moran (D), ranked 356 in spending. An Excel spreadsheet is available to look at the details of each Representative’s spending.

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