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

Money's Worth | January 7, 2013

Last week saw the wrap of the 112th Congress and the swearing-in of the 113th. The big news, however, was that lawmakers agreed on a plan to avoid the fiscal cliff. Well, “plan” might be too strong of a word. While the legislation did include some long-term – even permanent – policies (such as the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for families making less than $450,000 annually and permanently patched the AMT), on spending it simply delayed the sequester spending cuts for another two months. The deal also did nothing to reform entitlement spending or the tax code.

Which means the outlook for the 113th Congress: more of the same – fight/delay, fight/delay, fight/delay – on the nation’s long-term debt problems.

Additionally, Congress last week passed a bill providing $9.7 billion in aid for regions hit by Hurricane Sandy.

Check below for more on the last minute actions by the 112th and the early work from the 113th.


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

House – 112th Congress: In addition to the votes noted above, the House voted to pass nine bills whose costs are largely unknown:

  • H.R. 4212, Drywall Safety Act. COST: Unknown
  • H.R. 443, An Act to provide for the conveyance of certain property from the United States to the Maniilaq Association located in Kotzebue, Alaska. COST: “No significant impact
  • H.R. 6726, To prevent the 2013 pay adjustment for Members of Congress and persons holding other offices or positions in the Federal Government from being made. SAVINGS: Unknown
  • H.R. 6364, World War I Centennial Commission Act. COST: $4 million over five years
  • H.R. 6612, To redesignate the Dryden Flight Research Center as the Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center and the Western Aeronautical Test Range as the Hugh L. Dryden Aeronautical Test Range
  • S. 3454, Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013. COST: Unknown
  • S. 3202, Dignified Burial and Other Veterans Benefits Improvement Act. COST: Unknown
  • H.R. 4057, To amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to develop a comprehensive policy to improve outreach and transparency to veterans and members of the Armed Forces through the provision of information on institutions of higher learning.COST: $1 million over five years
  • H.R. 3159, Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act. COST: Unknown

House – 113th Congress: Other than the vote on the Hurricane Sandy bill, the House only voted to adopt rules for the 113th Congress.

Senate – 112th Congress: In addition to the fiscal cliff bill, the Senate passed a bill to extend the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 for five years. The funding for many of these programs is classified, so there was no cost estimate for the bill.

The chamber also confimed Carol J. Galante to be an Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and William Joseph Baer to be an Assistant Attorney General.

Additionally, the Senate passed a disaster aid bill for regions hit by Hurricane Sandy.

Senate – 113th Congress: The Senate has not yet taken any votes.

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