Members of Congress and their staffs are a hungry and thirsty bunch, and taxpayers are picking up the tab for some meals and java jolts.
The Washington Guardian, a government watchdog journalism group, obtained government reports showing Congressional office spending for the last three months of 2012. It includes eye-popping numbers for food and drinks, at the same time leaders were using tough rhetoric about cutbacks needed under sequestration.
"House leaders spent thousands of dollars at Harris Teeter, Whole Foods, Joe Ragan's Coffee Supplies, Dunkin' Donuts, PF Chang's, Qdoba Mexican Grill and Taylor Gourmet, just to name a few," Washington Guardian Reporter Sara Carter said.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) ordered $2,200 in coffee supplies during the month of November. Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy's (R-CA) office racked up the $2,500 bill for Qdoba.
University of Denver Political Science Professor Peter Hanson says as Congress forces federal agencies to slash budgets through sequestration, voters want to know what's happening with members' salaries; how are they spending money on Capitol Hill itself? Hanson says voters also may be asking legislators "shouldn't they be tightening their own belts as they are imposing cuts elsewhere?"
2 Wants To Know checked the food and beverage spending of NC Congressional House Members. Howard Coble(R) spent $178 in those same three months, Virginia Foxx(R) spent $958 and Mel Watt (D) spent the most at $1,020.
Members of Congress say they must cut eight percent from their own office budgets due to sequestration, which started this month. Congressional staffs say they are trying to find savings without significantly impacting services to their constituents. Some of the changes will include less travel for staff members between district offices and Washington, D.C.
Emails seeking comment from Speaker Boehner and Majority Whip McCarthy's offices received no response.
A check of expenditure reports for Democratic U.S. House leaders showed they often used a union caterer called CapitolHost. Their overall food and beverage expenses were significantly less than their Republican counterparts.
Visit the Washington Guardian website to read the full article
Look up spending data for all U.S. Representatives
Washington Guardian/WFMY News 2