The Idea of Building Dorms for Members of Congress Is Back. Here’s Why


The difficulties that some members of Congress have affording housing are once again front and center because of Nov. 8 comments from Democratic New York Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez about making rent.

Her comments about “squirreling away” money until she starts receiving her congressional salary of $174,000 in January re-ignited debate on the issue, including proposals to allocate living expenses for members of Congress or even build a dormitory for them.

“I have three months without a salary before I’m a member of Congress, so how do I get an apartment?” Ocasio-Cortez said to The New York Times. “Those little things are very real. … I’ve really been just kind of squirreling away and then hoping that gets me to January.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s comments received mixed reactions amid reports that she had more in savings than her average fellow millennial, reported MarketWatch.

But the young incoming congresswoman brought up the quandaries that members of Congress, especially those who have families to support, can find themselves in.

CNBC Analyst Arrested on Federal Charges After Disappearing and Being Declared a Fugitive

Politico Magazine column Tuesday titled “Want to drain the swamp? Build Congress a dorm” argued that when politicians must find ways to afford housing in Washington and their home districts, it squeezes middle-class people out of office.

“We hear stories of members literally living in their offices — among them is outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan — to save money, or of other representatives living in houseboats or in group homes that resemble flophouses,” columnist Rory Cooper wrote.

Cooper advocated for a very specific plan that included building the dorm on a “mostly useless park” in the Capitol complex and the possibility of bipartisan roommate assignments.

“You’re much less likely to attack a fellow member on a cable news panel if you’re going to be splitting kitchen duties with them later that evening,” he wrote.

Do you think members of Congress should be provided with a dormitory in D.C.?

The column also highlighted that a congressional dormitory would prevent politicians’ temptations to accept deals from lobbyists and others for living situations.

Lawmakers have weighed in on the issue before. They include:

• Democratic Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, who introduced legislation in May to ban members of Congress from sleeping in their offices but also grant them tax deductions for living expenses while Congress is in session.

• Former Republican Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who slept in his office and suggested lawmakers received $2,500 a month toward living expenses.

• Republican New York Rep. Lee Zeldin, who said he sleeps in his office because as a military veteran he’s “wired” to work “from the moment I wake up from the moment I go to sleep.”

The 'Chilling' Final Monologue Tucker Carlson Prepared for Fox News Has Been Released for the First Time

For now, Congress seems to have other issues at the forefront of its agenda, but perhaps legislation attempting to solve some lawmakers’ housing woes will arrive with the 116th Congress in January.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact

A version of this article appeared on The Daily Caller News Foundation website.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

, , , ,
Founded by Tucker Carlson, a 25-year veteran of print and broadcast media, and Neil Patel, former chief policy adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, The Daily Caller News Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit providing original investigative reporting from a team of professional reporters that operates for the public benefit. Photo credit: @DailyCaller on Twitter