Did You Get Your Money’s Worth from Congress Last Week?

Money's Worth | April 30, 2012

Did you get your Money’s Worth from Congress Last Week? 

Both chambers were in last week and worked on significant pieces of legislation. Despite a veto threat, the House passed a bill that would keep college graduates’ student loan interest rates from doubling (which is slated to happen this summer). President Obama opposes the bill because it pays for the lowered interest rates by defunding portions of the 2010 health care law. The Congressional Budget Office says, because of reductions in health care spending, the bill would save taxpayers $6 billion over five years.

The Senate’s action focused on a bill to reform the U.S. Postal Service. As Government Executive magazine explains the legislation, “allows the agency to offer buyout and early retirement incentives to 100,000 employees, switches to five-day delivery if officials cannot come up with other cost savings within two years, and restructures a requirement that the Postal Service prefund its retirement health benefits with more than $5 billion annually.” The Congressional Budget Office estimates the legislation will cost more than $14.3 billion over five years.

Check below for more on last week’s House and Senate action.

What you paid

Last week taxpayers spent roughly $100 million on Congress.

Salaries of Members of Congress and their allowances/week:

Speaker of the House: $223,500/52 = $4,299

House and Senate Majority and Minority Leaders: ($193,400/52) x 4 = $14,877

Other Representatives and Senators: ($174,000/52) x 530 = $1,773,462

Average weekly budget for all House offices: ($1,446,009/52) x 435 = $2,096,421

Average weekly budget for all Senate offices: ($3,409,093/52) x 100 = $6,555,958

Non-salary money allocated for Congress: $4.656 billion/52 = $89,538,462


What you got

In addition to the legislation above, the House voted to approve five bills and resolutions that would cost taxpayers at least $397 million over five years:

  • H.R. 2096, Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2011. COST: $382 million over five years
  • H.R. 3523, To provide for the sharing of certain cyber threat intelligence and cyber threat information between the intelligence community and cybersecurity entities, and for other purposes. COST: $15 million over five years
  • H.R. 1038, To authorize the conveyance of two small parcels of land within the boundaries of the Coconino National Forest containing private improvements that were developed based upon the reliance of the landowners in an erroneous survey conducted in May 1960. COST: “Negligible” 
  • H.R. 3336, Small Business Credit Availability Act. COST: “Not … significant
  • H.R. 2517, To facilitate a land exchange involving certain National Forest System lands in the Inyo National Forest, and for other purposes. COST: “No net impact on the deficit

In additional to the U.S. Postal Service reform bill, the Senate also passed a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the legislation will cost $2.2 billion over five years. The chamber also confirmed Brian C. Wimes and Gregg Jeffrey Costa to be U.S. district court judges.

As part of the debate on the Postal Service reform bill, the Senate rejected an amendment offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) “to achieve long-term cost-savings by allowing the Postmaster General to reduce the postal workforce through mandatory retirements for eligible employees.”


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