Even in the face of a federal budget crisis, members of Congress spent more than $20 million in staff bonuses at the end of last year, the Los Angeles Times reports.The money came out of the average $1.5 million annual allowance the federal government gives each member of the House. Any unspent funds go back to the Treasury at the end of the year.
Nearly one in 10 House members paid at least $100,000 in staff bonuses in the fourth quarter of 2010, according to Legistorm, which tracks congressional payrolls. Former Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, a Florida Republican, topped the list, paying out more than $200,000.
On average, defeated and retiring House representatives paid $4,000 in bonuses, while returning lawmakers paid about $2,300,
The bonuses have drawn criticism from taxpayer groups, who point out that members of Congress were handing out the extra dough even as the federal government faced a $1.3 trillion deficit.
Earlier this year, House Republicans voted to cut office budgets by 5%, or about $35 million. The specific cuts are up to each lawmaker’s discretion.