November 22nd, 2008
02:09 AM ET
7 years ago

Congressman to camp out in Capitol

Freshman lawmakers struggle to find affordable housing.

Freshman lawmakers struggle to find affordable housing.

(CNN) - Newly-minted Utah congressman Jason Chaffetz, like many freshman members of Congress, is trying to get settled in before the new session begins. That means quickly getting assigned an office and finding a place to live when in Washington.

To defray costs on housing in DC, some lawmakers choose to room together and split rent. Others find small, basement apartments.  Low-end spaces in D.C. run about $1,400 per month.

But Chaffetz has another idea: a cot.

He plans to camp out in his office and shower at the gym in the House.

Watch: New housing for new lawmakers

Lucky for Chaffetz, he drew a low number in the office lottery this morning, which means he'll have his pick of available offices.

"I can look for ones with windows," says Chaffetz. "That's important when you're going be sleeping there."

Filed under: Congress
soundoff (79 Responses)
  1. rich

    Prices of rent in some parts of D.C. is just simply outrageous. If a congressman cannot afford it, what do you think is the case with the average Joe?

    November 22, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  2. David

    Great idea. I would vote for this guy.

    November 22, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  3. Robert Schumacher

    I saw this piece on TV as well, and somehow I don't feel too badly for these guys. I'd love to make 6 figures, and I've lived much worse than Rep. Chaffetz (submarine duty, for one).

    I'm sorry, but I don't feel bad at all, nor sympathetic. This isn't a job of necessity, it's one they campaign for and it pays quite well (and has great benefits to boot).

    How about some real news?

    November 22, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  4. Rose

    Thirty years ago I worked on Capitol Hill for a Congressman who lived in his office. It was definitely a money saver for him, but fairly unpleasant for his staff. Also, it was not at all unusual for Members of Congress to spend the night in their office due to legislative or other types of all-nighters.

    November 22, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  5. D in San Diego

    Whats this guy trying to prove? He makes over $165,000 a year being a Congressman. If he's donating the money back to the IRS that would be one thing, but to have a guy sleeping in his office, what kinda wierdo is that.

    November 22, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  6. Idiot

    Great! If all lawmakers trugled to pay for rents or mortgages and other bills, they'd inderstand the financial problems most American peolple are facing and would work hard to help us, hopefully!

    November 22, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  7. bob wagner

    Thank You Congressman Chaffetz!! Hopefully you start a much needed trend. It seems that most of our elected officials have forgotten that they were elected to Represent the American people, not lavishly spend their hard-earned money. The American people need to be able to trust their Elected officials to Lead by Example, and not 'Do as I say, Not as I do'. Great start to your Washington duties.
    Thank You.
    Bob Wagner, a Concerned American
    West Valley City, UT

    November 22, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  8. Chris, Oakbrook Terrace, IL

    I say good for him. More Congressmen should start doing stuff like that particularly when some of the people he represents are losing their jobs and homes.

    November 22, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  9. Ben from Utah

    Chaffetz is a loon. He barely won in an overly Republican county and ran a somewhat racist/homogeneous campaign. He'll make a fool out of Utah Republicans much like some of the other Utah Reps. throughout the years.

    November 22, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  10. Erik

    If he can't afford housing downtown, he should get housing in the suburbs and commute like most other Americans do. But mooching off the taxpayer by sleeping in his office? That's just wrong.

    November 22, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  11. Seattle Sue

    Mr. Chaffetz, being a Republican is lucky to have an office to put a cot in.

    November 22, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  12. Joseph Eanes-Fennelly

    My local congressmen, a father of my good friend, slept in his office for his first 5.5 years as a member. He ate in the cafeterias and showered in the gym. I'm relatively sure that this is a common thing to do, and not exactly newsworthy....

    November 22, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    This guy is bad news, this is the lightest press you'll see from him. Just wait.

    November 22, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  14. Charlene, Republican for Obama

    Cool. Save money where you can and give a good example to the rest of us that are struggling in this Bush economy.

    Buy a Murphy bed and you are all set!

    November 22, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  15. Peter (CA)

    Amazing how even our congressmen are, at times, treated like temporary workers or field hands. Course they often then learn how to jack the system and make a ton of money for their friends.

    Like my corrupt congressman who was unfortunately re-elected although we almost got him out. Oh well, Orange County would vote for Satan if he had an R after his name.

    November 22, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  16. ann

    at least this congressman is saving money by living in his office .

    November 22, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  17. Barbara

    Welcome to the real world. We did that years ago to save money to get a home down payment when interest rates were in the roof areas.

    November 22, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  18. Judy

    These are our elected officials – and they go to Washington to represent our interests – they'd BETTER!

    I think the taxpayers of our country would be well served by investing money in a dormitory-style housing complex for our elected officials. We could provide them with a 24-hour cafeteria, phone services, internet rooms, and a large room for fireplace chats. The PEOPLE should be lobbying its representatives heavily in its country and providing a residence for our representatives is a first step.

    The Carpenter's union organization built a Training Center in Las Vegas, Nevada where it has rooms and a huge cafeteria where their apprentice trainees, and delegate training is held. They eat, breathe and talk Carpenter values everyday. You leave that place with pride and dignity and look back at how they take care of their own.

    Time to start looking outside the box......

    November 22, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  19. brian

    saving money at what cost? he hasn't officially moved to DC yet and he's already crazy.

    November 22, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  20. Don M.

    I'm surprised the Capitol Building is zoned residential. I would think with the high salaries and expense accounts that congressmen receive, he could find accommodations elsewhere.

    November 22, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  21. vdavis

    hopefully this attitude will spread to his contemporaries in congress and maybe the next congress will be more fiscally responsible with the citizens money and do something about the national deficit...

    November 22, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  22. Sandy from Bozeman

    hey what's the big deal, our Representative from Montana, Rehberg, has been living in his office for years.

    November 22, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  23. zgomer

    Got to start somewhere!

    November 22, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  24. cathy

    It is an admirable plan, one that should become a precedent for others;'but is one which will likely get snarled in some bureaucratic mumbo jumbo such that he is prevented from doing so.

    November 22, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  25. Pat

    That really helps the local economy, doesn't it?

    November 22, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
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