Whether you’re leaving on your own or were voted out of your job, the end of your congressional career doesn’t mean you lose all the perks of the office.
The Congressional Research Service on Monday published a short report detailing the several “privileges and courtesies” extended to former members of Congress.
Your membership in the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress (yes, that’s a real thing) gets you access whenever you’d like to the House or Senate floors — as long as you don’t become a registered lobbyist or “agent of a foreign principal.” You also get a permanent Congress alumni I.D. card to flash around at parties for years to come. Now you get those things even if you don’t enroll in the association, but we hear membership is a nice way to stay in touch.
You are also welcome to still use the Capitol’s gyms. Unfortunately, you now have to pay a fee. But it’s probably worth it to still do P90X with Rep. Paul Ryan or play paddleball with Sen. Jeff Flake, right?
Former House members can still use the House’s parking lots and eat in the exclusive members dining room. The report makes no mention of Senate parking privileges, and says former senators have “limited use of the Senate Dining Room.” (You may have the justly famous Senate Bean Soup, but sparingly.)
And outgoing lawmakers can still use the taxpayer-funded mail service called “franked mail” for 90 days after they leave office. Former senators can still purchase from the “Senate Stationery Room” and borrow from the Senate Library.
Former House members can also use the Senate Library, but they can’t take out any books.
Of course the Office of Members’ Services is always on hand to help ensure you receive those cushy pension payments worth as much as 80 percent of your final salary.
Many congressional alums hang around Washington long after leaving Congress, and so they’ll always have an exclusive place to eat and work out.
And a front row seat to dysfunction.