Lay out the Congressional air mattress

chris gibsonChris Gibson is officially on the job as a Congressman after the 112th Congress convened Wednesday. And his congressional office space is now his second home -- both figuratively and literally.

Gibson is one of the apparently large handful of Congressional reps who have decided to not get a place to stay in DC -- so they're sleeping in their offices. Gibson will reportedly be bedding down on an air mattress (let's hope he at least sprung for an Aerobed) and showering in the Congressional gym. [WSJ] [State of Politics]

The Congressman has said that renting a place in DC was an unnecessary expense. And as he told YNN last month:

Look, it's going to better accommodations than I had over in Iraq. I can tell you that much. Really when I'm there, I'm really focused on work. They aren't 9 to 5 hours, it's up to 18 hours a day. [WNYT] [YNN]

By the way: the salary for House members is is $174,000 a year. Gibson has stopped taking his military pension while he's on the Congressional payroll so as not to be a double dipper. [Wikipedia] [Journal Register]


I'd like some more information on the mechanics of forgoing a DoD pension.

An O-6 (U.S. Army Colonel) with 24 years makes $116.5k in base pay, which maps to $59k in annual pension, plus some other benefits that can equate to cash, depending.

Why would a guy with a family who's earned both the pension and a congressional salary refuse either? Makes no sense, because the $174k congressional salary is only assured for two years. Nobody knows how difficult the future might turn out to be. What if he dies prematurely, say in February 2012? I want to know how Gibson justifies this $118k give-back to his wife, if that's what's indeed happening.

There's either a sophisticated PR calculation going on here (like sacrificing $118k in pension pays off in stardom money later), or the pension payments aren't in fact forfeited, just escrowed.

This doesn't pass the smell test without specifics. My wife -- a very bright, lovely, imaginary woman -- would raise objections I can't refute.


I just moved here from DC, and I can tell you this is totally normal; freshman Congresspeople always do this, then get tired of living in their offices and take a spot in a group house if they really don't want to pay for a place of their own. (Last time I checked, DC was the 3rd most expensive housing market in the US; it's probably still at least in the top five.)

So now we cover the expanded electricity use, heating etc for these guys to live in their offices rather than them renting their own places. Ask your current employer about using your office as your apartment rather than renting your own and see how that goes.

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