According to a report from the New York Post, some lawmakers are sleeping on cots in their offices in order to save money on renting a D.C. apartment during the times of the year Congress is in session. One representative told the Post, “Washington is too expensive.” He added, “If we get to the point where you have to rent or buy [in D.C. to be in Congress], then only millionaires would be members of Congress.”

Critics of the practice say it is unprofessional and “not proper.” One congressman is even sponsoring a bill to make the practice illegal. He accuses those sleeping in their offices or closets as taking advantage of “free electricity, free janitorial, free security, [and] no rent.” That individual estimates that the lawmakers spending the night on the Hill are probably saving $25,000 to $30,000 a year and “not claiming at tax time.”

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U.S. representatives make $174,000 a year for their service in Congress and are required to maintain a legal residence in their own state. In the D.C. area, one-bedroom apartment rents start around $2,000 a month. The Post report noted that congressional salaries have not increased in more than 10 years, although critics of federal spending would point out there are many other options for a policymaker trying to generate extra income. According to some estimates, about one in every five representatives are secretly sleeping in their offices at night.

One congressman proudly admitted sleeping in his office, and noted, “I don’t really view it as free housing. It’s really convenient…There’s a gym here. There’s a shower there.” That lawmaker previously split rent with another colleague and paid $1,200 a month, but said he began putting that money toward his child’s college tuition when his kids started college.

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  • Carole VanSickle Ellis

    Carole VanSickle Ellis serves as the news editor and COO of Self-Directed Investor (SDI) Society, a membership organization dedicated to the needs of self-directed investors interested in alternative investment vehicles, including real estate. Learn more at or reach Carole directly by emailing

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