Introduction xvii Agriculture, and Defense, and agencies such as the EPA [Environmental Pro- tection Agency], FDA [Food and Drug Administration], FAA [Federal Avia- tion Administration], NASA [National Aeronautics and Space Administration], etc.) with the monies needed to run day-to-day operations. It also provides the Judicial Branch with the money it needs for judicial salaries and opera- tions. Congress does most of its work via committees, including oversight (primarily of Executive Branch departments) and investigative hearings, and relies on the support of several of its legislative partners to carry out these responsibilities. The tax dollars deducted from our paychecks provide Con- gress with the money to do all this. To get into the specifics of what these things cost, we looked at salaries and benefits (including perks such as franking, dining, and the gym) for Represen- tatives, Senators, and their staffs, operational facilities costs, committee obliga- tions, passing legislation, and even ethics and impeachment investigations. For example, one well-known Congressional perk is the franking privilege, or the ability to send mail for free. Members can send individual and mass mailings at no cost to them. In fact, all mass mailings are required to carry the disclaimer, “This mailing was prepared, published, and mailed at tax- payer expense.”15 Yet, it’s just mail, right? How much can a few handfuls of stamps cost? For many years, it was about $90 million a year, on average, for the House and Senate combined (accounting for both election and nonelec- tion years). At least that was the cost going into the mid-1990s. Since then both the House and Senate have made significant headway in reducing the cost of these taxpayer subsidized mailings. By 2015, the average combined annual spending was down to under one-tenth of that. Reform efforts during the past 30 years have reduced overall franking expenditures in both election and non-election years. Even-numbered- year franking expenditures have been reduced by over 85% from $113.4 million in FY1988 to $16.9 million in FY2014, while odd-numbered-year franking expenditures have been reduced by over 90% from $89.5 million in FY1989 to $8.3 million in FY2015. House mail costs have decreased from a high of $77.9 million in FY1988 to $6.8 million in FY2015. The Senate has dramatically reduced its costs, from $43.6 million in FY1984 to $1.5 million in FY2015.16 We also explore the costs of the supporting players, coaches, and referees, including Congressional historians, archivists, researchers, and librarians, and Congressional officers (including clerks and parliamentarians), as well as the relationships between Congress and the Executive and Judicial Branches (such as the cost of Supreme Court decisions that overturn Congressional legislation). Also included are the costs of legislative partners, such as the Library of Con- gress and the Botanical Garden, the Government Accountability Office (GAO),
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