Seven months after Rep. Aaron Schock’s resignation from Congress, the House Administration Committee will unveil new regulations governing how members can spend from their taxpayer-funded accounts. On Wednesday morning, Chairwoman Candice S. Miller, R-Mich., will mark up a resolution to amend the committee’s regulations.
More transparency and tighter restrictions on mileage reimbursements would be implemented under the proposal.
Member’s spending reports would be posted online by the House chief administrative officer in a “searchable, sortable format.” Members would need prior written approval to fly on private or charter planes, making jet-setting from D.C. to exotic locales more transparent.
After Schock had to pay the House $88,000 to cover improper mileage reimbursements, vehicle lease payments and repairs, the committee wants to draw a clear line between official vehicles and cars owned or leased by a member’s campaign or PAC.
In what seems to be a direct response to Schock’s “Downton Abbey” inspired office renovation, the House Administration Committee would have to sign off on any decorations or furniture that cost more than $5,000.
In the immediate wake of Schock’s departure, House leadership downplayed concerns the chamber had failed to police members’ spending.
But Miller later announced she was asking Reps. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., and Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., both former congressional staffers, to steer a review of spending rules.
After meeting with chiefs of staff and fellow members, Davis said in August that inconsistent advice from the House Administration and House Ethics committees seemed to be the issue. He suggested joint “pink sheets,” generally the term for guidance memos from the Ethics Committee, could be in the works.
Davis and Lofgren also asked for feedback on the level of training employees have available from the House Ethics Committee staff and the support provided by administrative staff. But mandatory ethics training for members of the House — the one group exempt from such training — did not appear to be on the table.
Schock’s alleged misspending, which came to light after Washington Post reporter Ben Terris got a peek inside the “Downton” office, is the subject of a grand jury probe.
“Look, I’m on my way out the door,” Miller, who is retiring after the 2016 elections, told CQ Roll Call during a recent exit interview, “but I would like to be able to ensure there is a structure in place that helps members understand, so that doesn’t happen again. Transparency is a big part of that.”
Who Polices How Members Spend Office Budgets?
Could Aaron Schock Really End Up in Jail?
Schock Fallout: Rules Subject to Interpretation
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