This time it's CNN, reporting that Congress pays $6.1 million in bonuses as it debates spending cuts:
Washington (CNN) -- Members of the House of Representatives reported up to $6.1 million in staff bonuses between January and March, giving out bonuses as they debated spending cuts and came within minutes of shutting down government over fiscal problems, a CNN investigation has found.
At least one congressman gave thousands of dollars to his own staff as he criticized other federal workers as being overpaid.
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Members of both political parties reported bonuses, though Democrats outspent Republicans, with up to $3.1 million in staff bonuses compared with $908,000 for GOP members. The remaining $2.1 million CNN found was disbursed by committees. Committee spokesmen did not respond or were not able to delineate between Democratic and Republican staff members.
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"These are congressional staffers getting bonuses while a lot of the constituents of the lawmakers are actually looking for jobs," said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense.
The bonuses came from an annual budget each member of Congress is given for staff, office space, travel and supplies. That allowance averages $1.5 million per year per office and is one of the few areas where each lawmaker has complete authority.
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But many others confirmed that the expenses were bonuses and defended them. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-South Carolina, served as majority whip for four years when Democrats controlled the House. On January first and second of this year, immediately before Republicans took over, he gave out some $79,000 in bonuses to his leadership staff.
In a statement, Clyburn wrote: "My staff worked extremely hard, spending very long hours on the Hill including quite a few all-nighters and many weekends. I was fortunate to have a dedicated staff, and I rewarded them with an end-of-the-year bonus that came from the remaining unspent funds allocated to my office."
Ah, so that explains it. Congressional staffers work long hours - and even weekends! - so they're deserving of our gratitude. If a Congressman's office has unspent funds at the end of the year, which itself is a tribute to the staff's excellent financial management, why not just let the staff keep it? Who would begrudge them a little extra pay?
Maybe that guy who is playing the world's smallest violin would, but not me. Not me.
The CNN story continues:
Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-North Carolina, similarly told CNN she didn't know if she'd given bonuses. She defended congressional staff in general.
"I think that for the most part, people work for very low wages, they work long hours and I think out of my staff I get very good service for the salaries they get," Foxx said.
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[S]ome members of Congress who gave bonuses have railed publicly against federal worker pay. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Florida, held a hearing on the subject in March and opened with a strong statement, saying, "Our taxpayers can no longer be asked to foot the bill for these federal employees while watching their own salaries remain flat and their benefits erode."
But as he criticized federal workers as being overpaid, Ross reported $8,750 in what looks like bonuses to his his own, personal office staff. His office did not respond to a request for clarification and comment.
He didn't respond, you say? Well, CNN, I expect that Representative Ross was far too busy doing the people's business late into the night and on weekends to take time out to answer your frivolous questions.