March 8, 2018 - 8:49 am
WASHINGTON — A bill that would limit the use of a long-standing perk by federal lawmakers — taxpayer-funded mailings — was introduced Thursday by Rep. Jacky Rosen of Nevada.
Rosen coined her bill the No Free Campaigns for Congress Act of 2018 and would cap the amount of taxpayer dollars to be spent on so-called franked mail at $10,000 per member annually.
There is no current limit on franking, and Rosen said some members have spent upward of $100,000 in what she called “self-promotional mailings.”
“Members of Congress should be using their office budgets to fight for their constituents and serve the people they represent, not help themselves get re-elected,” said Rosen, a freshman Democratic congresswoman who is challenging Republican Dean Heller for his Senate seat.
Lawmakers have argued that the mailing privilege is needed to inform constituents of legislative changes to programs and educate communities about federal regulatory changes that often are not covered by media outlets.
Ethics watchdog groups have long been critical of the practice and potential abuses of the privilege.
The Rosen bill also would prohibit use of taxpayer funds for mass mailings by a lawmaker during an election year.