Reps. Woodall and Duckworth Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Eliminate Congressional Perk
Today, U.S. Representative Rob Woodall (R-GA-07) and U.S. Representative Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-08) introduced H.R. 4872, the “Ending Special Mail Privileges for Congress Act of 2014.” This bipartisan legislation repeals an antiquated federal law, known as the Franking privilege, that allows Members of Congress to use their signature in the corner of an envelope as postage and exempts Congress from the United States Postal Service’s (USPS) prepayment requirement. Though originally adopted by the Continental Congress in 1775, the Franking privilege still allows Congressional offices to send millions of dollars’ worth of mail through the USPS each year without first paying for the postage.
“The Franking privilege is a relic of the past, and it’s time for Congress to play by the same rules as the families and businesses it represents,” said Woodall. “The Post Office doesn't accept ‘IOUs’ from the American people, and it shouldn’t accept ‘IOUs’ from Congress either. This commonsense, bipartisan bill is a small but important step toward rebuilding trust between the American people and their representatives in Washington.”
“As Members of Congress, we lead by example,” said Duckworth. “With so many working families out there trying to make ends meet, it’s important that we meet the same obligations that our neighbors meet. Removing the Franking privilege for Congress is a small step we can take to show the American people we are here to work for them.”
H.R. 4872 has attracted the bipartisan support of government watchdog groups as well.
"All too often, constituent communication with Congress is a one-way street -- lawmakers do most of the talking and everyday Americans do the paying,” said a spokesman from the National Taxpayers Union. “It's time to bring greater accountability to how Congress uses the postal system by requiring House Members to pay up-front for their mailing costs in the same way families and businesses do. Repealing the so-called 'Franking privilege' is a fair and simple reform that will introduce pay-as-you-go budgeting to one of the most basic units of government: the Congressional office. Congressman Woodall's proposal has earned a stamp of approval from taxpayers for taking an important step toward transparency in the way Congress works."
The advocacy group Public Citizen also expressed their support for the bill, stating that the organization “heartily supports the Woodall-Duckworth legislation to rein in the abuse of taxpayer-funded Franked mail for members of Congress, and applauds the work of making this commonsense legislation come from across party lines.”
Woodall represents the Seventh Congressional District of Georgia, which includes the majority of Forsyth and Gwinnett counties. Duckworth represents the Eighth Congressional District of Illinois.