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Letter: The US Capitol is not a dormitory

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opinion Dickinson, 58602
Dickinson North Dakota 1815 1st Street West 58602

Do city or county commissioners sleep in their meeting rooms because they want to save money and not rent a place to live? Do our state legislators sleep in the halls of the Capitol in Bismarck while away from their home cities on legislative business?

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Most would say of course not. Then why do we let our federally elected officials — who make $174,000 a year — sleep and live in their offices while in D.C.?

After reading a story last year that said Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., was saving money by living in his office, sleeping in a cramped office hallway, hanging his clothes outside his office bathroom and showering in the house members’ gym, I posed these questions on a Town Hall blog to Cramer: “Do you still sleep in your office in D.C. rather than getting an apartment? If so, have you considered sharing a place to stay in D.C. with another congressman? How do your interns feel about you sleeping where you work?”

Cramer’s reply was with a question and a statement: “Are you serious? I’m not Bill Clinton.” I don’t know why he deflected his answer by bringing up Bill Clinton; humorous, maybe, but yes, I was serious.

I think it is strange for an elected official to not be committed enough to his position to rent a place to stay. He knew the pay going in, and if he could not afford to rent a place in Washington, then maybe we should consider building a dorm for our congressmen, or maybe he could get a second job like many North Dakotans have to do to provide for the roof over their heads.

After all, sleeping and living in their offices robs the congressman of the dignity of the office and the incentive to do the people’s work. They can do better.

Is Cramer serious about representing the people of North Dakota, or is he just sleeping in his office in D.C.?

If Press readers think congressmen should not live in their offices, I urge them to contact the chair of the House Ethics Committee — Rep. Mike Conway, R-Texas — and tell the committee to “evict” them.

Susan Beehler,

Mandan

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