Why, Congress? Why? Why? Why?

Sep 27, 2013 -- 9:51am

Why, Congress?   Why?   Why?   Why?

(Charlie Rood, September 27, 2013)


This isn't an easy point to make because it involves the widow of Senator Frank Lautenberg, but....

A story in USA Today (link below) references how lawmakers are debating how to keep government funded, yet in the $1.1 trillion stopgap spending resolution, is a one-time payment to Senator Lautenberg's widow for $174,000, equivalent to his yearly salary!

WHY?   Because these kinds of payments have become a "long-standing and routine practice of Congress", so routine, it's even covered in the official Senate handbook!

WHY?   Because Congress has paid the funeral expenses of members who die in office since the 19th century.

WHY?  Funeral expenses are one thing (and debatable), but the one year salary payment?

To add further fuel to this fire is to note Frank Lautenberg's estimated worth in 2013 was estimated around $56.8 million!

It sounds crass to ask, but does Lautenberg's widow need the money?   Heck, Bonnie Lautenberg didn't even know about this until she heard about it in the news.   

Of course, this is nothing against her, it's against the political establishment in Washington who once again, have set up some "perk" that most of regular America does not get, but yet we pay for them to get!

Some are pointing out that $174,000 in a $1.1 trillion dollar resolution is paltry.   

It's NEVER paltry when you are talking about American taxpayer money!

How many more of these expenditures might be part of spending resolutions, bills, and the budget overall?   Plenty, I'm sure!

And now, a final "WHY"...

Although most other federal spending is subject to across-the-board-cuts under the "sequestration", WHY doesn't this "payment to widows and heirs of deceased members of Congress" face cuts?

BECAUSE, Congress specifically exempted the payments under the 2011 budget deal that avoided a government shutdown at that time!


(USA Today story:   http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/09/26/frank-lautenberg-widow-payment/2877049/)


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Clark Howard