NBC Las Vegas: For Congress, approval rating may be low, but perks are plentiful 76_membership_report

June 12, 2020 04:51 PM



WASHINGTON (SBG) — They may not enjoy an overall high approval rating, but for members of Congress, the perks are still plentiful.

"The special license plate to sometimes park in illegal spaces, it’s the $25-a-month special high-end gym complete with a sauna steam room paddle ball court and a steam room," said Adam Andrzejewski, founder and CEO of Open the Books, a government watchdog group that tracks spending.

His most recent report digs into some of the most expensive items members of Congress spend taxpayer money on and that includes overseas trips.

For example, between 2007-2018, lawmakers spent about $21.2 million on 16,367 overseas trips, according to his research.

“And the most popular destinations — they’re not the hot zones — it’s Israel, England, Germany and France," Andrzejewski said.”

Here are some other numbers to keep in mind. In all of 2019 and the first two weeks of 2020, the House worked just 850 hours, the Senate 1,003 hours. Compare that to the average American who worked nearly 2,200 hours during the same period.

Most members argue they are often still working when back in their districts, but consider how much legislation they have gotten enacted in the last 20 years.

During the 106th Congress (1999-2000), 604 new laws were enacted. Since that time, Congressional sessions have averaged closer to 400 . 

For this Congress, the 116th, which has six months left, just 142 new laws have been enacted.

One other high-dollar item to consider is legal settlements.

“Since 1995, there’s been nearly 300 cases that have been settled for nearly $18 million. This settlement really came to light during the height of the 'Me Too' crisis in 2017," Andrzejewski said.

He and others are now calling for more accountability and transparency for elected officials who have written themselves out of laws like the Freedom of Information Act, which help track the money and the end result.

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