WASHINGTON — Saying they'll lead by example, Republicans in the House of Representatives are prepared to cut individual office budgets by 5 percent next year, giving members less money for travel, employee salaries and rental space.
The next House speaker, Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, is touting the plan, saying it will be one of the first votes taken by the new Congress in January.
"The speaker-designate has spoken. ... We will follow his lead," said Republican Rep. Dan Lungren of California, the incoming chairman of the House Administration Committee.
Lungren said the panel, which determines how the House is run and creates all the rules under which members operate their offices, will include the cuts when it passes a resolution that establishes what can be spent on office allowances.
Last year, when members received a 2.5 percent increase, rank-and-file members received allowances ranging from $1.3 million to $1.9 million.
"They normally go up, so this is more than just window dressing," said Lungren, who'd take a $77,000 reduction on his allowance of $1.54 million. "It's a 5 percent cut for all committees, a 5 percent cut for leadership staff, and a 5 percent cut for individual offices. That's the pot of money that every member gets to pay everything: salaries of employees, communications, mail, your telephones, your rent with your district offices."
Many Democrats seem ready to go along with the plan.
"Everyone in America has had to tighten their belts over the past two years and Congress is also looking at ways to save money where possible," said Democratic Rep. Doris Matsui of California.
The cuts are likely to have much greater impact in large rural districts, where members and their staffers must travel longer distances to meet with constituents.
Lungren said all House members will have a good incentive not to spend more than they receive.
"If you overrun your allotment, you pay for it personally," he said.
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