July 19, 2024
Congress Under Fire over ‘Ridiculous’ Reimbursement Program

Congress Under Fire over ‘Ridiculous’ Reimbursement Program

Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly said Rep. Matt Gaetz was the largest beneficiary based on reporting from the Post that relied on old data. The Post subsequently issued a correction, although viewers using an archive site to circumvent the paywall may not have seen the updated version. 

(Luis CornelioHeadline USA) Taxpayers reimbursed lawmakers roughly $5.2 million for so-called food and lodging expenses despite already paying them $174,000 annually, plus benefits, reported The Washington Post on Tuesday.

This multi-million-dollar reimbursement program was initiated in 2022 after the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress allowed itself to charge American taxpayers for D.C. housing costs while lawmakers maintained their homes in their districts. 

Lawmakers are not required to provide proof of purchase for these reimbursements, creating a “ridiculous loophole” that makes it “very difficult to tell whether or not it’s a legitimate payment and whether it’s proper,” said Public Citizen lobbyist Craig Holman. 

As reported by The Post, 319 out of 435 lawmakers were reimbursed for their expenses, including 153 Democrats and 166 Republicans. 

Taxpayers reimbursed $19,000 over 11 months to embattled Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., despite owning a $1.2 million home in Washington, D.C.

Swalwell was also reimbursed $2,838 for lodging in May 2023 alone.  

When pressed about the specifics of the reimbursement, a spokesperson for Swalwell promised that everything “he does is allowable.” 

Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Mich., was reimbursed the most from of the program, according to the Post.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., was the second largest beneficiary, receiving approximately $30,000 in reimbursements and over $10,000 for food in 2023 alone.  

“Rep. Gaetz has always complied with House rules regarding congressional reimbursements,” a Gaetz spokesperson told The Post

“In 2023, Rep. Gaetz dedicated significant time to his work on the Weaponization Subcommittee, requiring his presence to be in Washington, D.C., on days often when there were no votes, which incurred additional reimbursement expenses to conduct depositions,” the spokesperson added 

Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., also benefited from the program, receiving $19,395 in reimbursements, despite co-owning a $1.6 million home on Capitol Hill. Her reimbursements were issued over nine months, averaging $2,000 a month, according to The Post.

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