Congress about to give itself a big budget hike

Washington Examiner
Examiner Editorial
September 30, 2009

Just when everybody is distracted by the health care reform debate, Congress is quietly preparing to spend billions for “home improvements” for its offices, buildings, staff salaries and facilities, and publications, via the $4.7 billion annual legislative branch operational budget appropriation. That represents a 5.8 percent increase over last year. The bill was approved by the House last week, is expected to pass the Senate today,and will be quickly signed when it lands on President Obama’s desk.

The legislative branch appropriation funds salaries and expenses for the personal staffs of all 535 senators and representatives, as well as their committee staffs, committee administrative budgets, and provides money to maintain operations of the Government Printing Office (GPO), Office of the Architect of the Capitol, Congressional Research Service (CRS), Government Accountability Office (GAO), and the Capitol Police. Salaries of congressmen are handled separately.

Among the goodies, according to Politico, is a $500,000 “pilot program” for senators to mail postcards to constituents about town hall meetings. Then there is another $4 million for congressmen to hire “consultants.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, gets nine, while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will have to make do with only three. Also included in the bill are increases aveaging around 4.3 percent for Vice President Joe Biden’s Senate office, Reid and McConnell’s leadership offices, and those of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader John Boehner and other House leaders. Meanwhile, the federal budget deficit approaches $2 trillion for 2010. Clearly, these people don’t have a clue about how to manage a budget.

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