What is the point of Congress? Why do we keep them around? They are no longer needed to declare war. They are no longer needed to make law. Their committee hearings never reach any meaningful resolutions. They almost always vote along partisan lines. So what exactly is their purpose other than sucking up taxpayer dollars?
I conducted a quick search to see if I could find the total cost of Congress on an annual basis. If someone has done the estimation I can’t find it. At least I can’t find anything current or a running tally.
The best information I found is from Daily Kos in 2013…
Here are the VERY basic costs – for each of the 535 members of Congress as well as the total amounts and total total…
Base Salary for each member $174,000Daily Kos
Office and Staff allowance, per member (avg) $1,353, 205
Expenses, per member $256,574
Total base salary $93,090,000
Total offices and staff (Basic) $573,900,000
Total expenses, basic $137,267,090
Total combined for ALL Congress $804,247,090
The cost of operating the U.S. Congress plus its 38,696-person support staff has zoomed from $343 million in fiscal 1970 to an estimated $2.8 billion for 1992 — an astounding 705% rise, more than double the 311% in crease in defense spending over the same period. This chart shows the money spent in 1970, 1980 and 1992 by the House of Representatives, the Senate and related agencies such as the General Accounting Office. The agencies, which are all funded by Congress, posted the greatest spending in creases — 776%, vs. 629% for the House and Senate combined.CNN
The CNN article from 1992 is more comprehensive and covers everything Congress related so I will use that estimate. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics $1.89 in 2021 is equal to $1.00 in 1992. That’s how much our purchasing power has diminished in the last 30 years. But, that’s a side issue. Using that calculation $2.8 billion in 1992 is a whopping $5.3 billion in today’s dollars. Are we getting our money’s worth?
That was a rhetorical question.
What spurred this idea is an article in the Wall Street Journal today regarding the United States re-entering the Paris Climate Accords. They report that the Biden Administration will implement much of the policy changes while bypassing Congress.
Like Mr. Obama, Mr. Biden is committing the U.S. without submitting the Paris agreement to the Senate as a treaty. They know it would never get a two-thirds vote for approval, and probably not even a simple majority. Yet the Administration will cite Paris to justify sweeping environmental regulations to raise the cost of fossil fuels and subsidize renewable energy and electric vehicles. It will bypass Congress for much of this.Wall Street Journal
If Presidents are de facto kings we elect for 4 years then why not recognize that and get rid of Congress?