Such a concept does exist, but it’s not always easy to find a real-life example.
Each of the 435 House members receive an official allowance to hire staff, pay rent for their district offices, travel, send mail and buy office equipment and supplies. Personnel budgets are the same for all, but other categories can vary by a district’s size and its distance from Washington.
The Oklahomans’ allowances average $1.45 million. That does not include the salary of the House member, which is $174,000. House rules require that members personally reimburse any expenses that exceed the office allowances.
Not that this was a problem with Oklahoma’s House members, who not only didn’t spend all the allotted funds but returned the unused balance to the Treasury. The five of them — four Republicans, one Democrat — sent back more than $750,000 they didn’t need for operations.
This practice is certainly not confined to representatives of Soonerland. Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), who used up only 90 percent of his allowance, made this announcement on behalf of himself and several other GOP frosh:
“I think we need to send a message, and not to the American people — other than we’re serious about cutting spending. But I think it communicates the message to the president and all of the executive branch that it’s time to do more with less. We’re going to lead by example. Often times, members in Congress are usually saying, ‘Do as we say and not as we do’ — but in this case, we’re going to walk the walk and talk the talk.”
Not everyone, of course, can be expected to adhere to this philosophy. For instance: Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) apparently found enough money in his allowance to dispatch a check to Crazy Rod Blagojevich’s [redacted] Golden House of Senate Seats.
(Via The McCarville Report.)