I think I’ve seen it all; Representative Bennie Thompson (D-MS) is introducing legislation to create affordable housing in a neighborhood near the swanky, swinging Swamp (cue background music, by any rapper getting back at the man). Tenement housing for politicians who only eke out $174,000 in salary, combined with full benefits until the Grim Reaper comes out to play. They get a per diem for doing business in and out of their home state, the ever so popular allowance for paying-off sexually harassed staffers, and the Members’ Representational Allowance (MRA)—well, it just doesn’t allow for our hard-working elected officials to grow their wealth. Pity.
Thompson is attempting to rescue several of his colleagues who regularly sleep on their office couch while doing the work of the people. Namely, Representatives Gregory Meeks (D-NY), and Dan Donovan (R-NY) sworn political enemies who agree on one thing only; they are the epitome of the working poor and cannot afford a D.C. apartment or long-term housing with a hotel chain.
The Good, Bad and Ugly
Thompson, feeling the love for his fellow congressman, already has a building in mind for this preposterous idea. A lovely, abandoned, two-story brick building erected in 1940 that once was home to student nurses. This building is nestled near a posh, gentrified (read: pricey) part of D.C. and has a bit of a taint upon her edifices. It is the former housing for the Capital Hill interns, but was, in short order, shut down after a sex scandal (imagine that) involving the now shamefully retired Representative Max Foley (R-FL). He was ahead of the #metoo curve by sending graphic images and messages to high school aged boy pages. Oh, if those walls could talk.
There is some good news; the building is owned by the government. But if Thompson has his way with it, the optics alone should send him packing, hopping a Greyhound, and ending up at Ole Miss as a teacher’s aide.
You see, our Nation’s Capital City has an unparalleled homeless crisis marring the streets. An estimated 6,904 people are being shuffled around to hotels and other temporary lodgings, and the City is spending a whopping $80,000 a night to house 600 families. Um, yeah, Thompson, those are the real poor, poor people in D.C.
But Thompson is undeterred in his quest to bring up our low-income congressmen and women to a livable wage with this low to no cost plan. In an interview with the New York Post, he incredulously, and with a straight face, said “I think that building should be available to members of Congress who have found housing costs to be prohibitive.”
The Congressional Cot Club has enjoyed many members over the years for a variety of reason; rental costs, transitional housing, and of course, gasp, working late. But Thompson has his detractors and may I commend a Democrat or two that can see beyond this cost-saving measure. And one of them is the aforementioned Dan Donovan:
“Our national debt is over $20 trillion, so I don’t think it’s a great use of taxpayer funds to build Congress a dorm. Sleeping in my office isn’t very comfortable, but it’s my choice to save for my daughter’s college instead of spending money on a DC apartment. I’m here to work, not relive my college days in a taxpayer-funded dorm.”
Amen to that. We all have watched Animal House and perhaps participated in a Toga party or two. Add in those crazy congresspeople and who knows what kind of Marion Barry style chaos might ensue.
The other notable detractor is none other than lie, cheat, and steal an election, Representative Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) who snorted, “Give me a break, if we are going to use that facility for anyone’s more affordable housing options, it should be for interns, for young people, to introduce them to the process.’’
Which has been tried and failed miserably due to another brain baked politician from Florida, the disgraced former representative Max Foley. But one Republican, Representative, Mike Bishop (R-MI), has put the whole kit and caboodle into perspective, “I don’t know it would be a good idea to have people in a big place like that. The more I think about it, the less likely I would be to support it. It might be a breeding house for something bad.”