NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

CONGRESS MEMBERS OVERPAID DUE TO UNEXCUSED ABSENTEEISM

March 21, 2005

Some federal lawmakers have missed an inordinate number of days while Congress was in session, for which they were paid, reports the National Taxpayers Union (NTU).

According to federal statute, congressional absentees must forfeit their pay unless they or a family member are ill. The NTU, looking only at those missing at least 10 full days between January 2003 and October 2004 recess, found that:

  • John Kerry (D-Mass.) missed 146 days of votes without being granted leave, thus receiving a salary overpayment of $90,933.
  • John Edwards (D-N.C.) missed a total of 102 days during the above period, accumulating overpayments of $63,543.
  • Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) missed 131 days, costing taxpayers $81,363 in excess.
  • Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) missed the most days among Republicans (37), costing taxpayers $23,306.

While the list of chronically absent lawmakers contains many running for higher office, such as the presidential and vice-presidential nomination, this does not mean that taxpayers must fund such activities.

Federal law does not require Presidents to forfeit their pay while seeking reelection, although President George W. Bush relinquished his governor's salary for days spent outside Texas when he ran for President in 2000, says NTU.

Source: "Study: 25 Congress Members Flouted Law by Taking Taxpayer-Funded Salary for Unexcused Absences," National Taxpayers Union, January 26, 2005.

 

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