A bipartisan compromise in the House to limit spending on "franked" mail would give each member about $178,000 a year for official mail and would require the members to file disclosure reports each quarter.
The compromise is expected to be voted on today when the fiscal 1991 legislative appropriations bill comes to the House floor for debate.
Under the compromise plan, mailings by House members would be monitored by the postmaster general. If a member exceeded his franking allowance, he could borrow $25,000 from his clerk-hire allowance, but after that was spent the Postal Service would be empowered to cut off further mailings except for those directly responding to individual constituent letters.
Copies of all mass-mailed materials, whether sent as postal patron or first-class mailings, would have to be filed with the House Franking Commission.
Yesterday, the National Taxpayers Union, which has criticized House franking practices in the past, called the proposal, crafted by Reps. Vic Fazio (D-Calif.) and Bill Frenzel (R-Minn.), a "major step forward," although it said it was "disappointed" with the plan's ceiling on costs. Common Cause President Fred Wertheimer recommended its approval to "help curb franking privilege abuses and provide public accountability."