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Politics & Government

Altmire Returns More Than $1 Million In Unused Congressional Funds

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U.S. Representative Jason Altmire (D-PA-4) is wrapping up his third and possibly last term in the House.  Altmire, who was defeated in the April Democratic primary in the redrawn 12th district by fellow incumbent Mark Critz, says over his six years in office he has returned more than $1 million in unspent office funds.

A pre-determined budget is given to each member of the House at the beginning of each term and is used to administer offices in Washington and their districts.  That's about $1.5 million a year in taxpayer funds to be used at the discretion of the members.

“They can spend it however they want—they can spend it on mailings, on staff salary and bonuses, on equipment for their offices, you have different districts that set up a number of district offices and all of that comes out of the same budget,” Altmire said.

At the beginning of the current term, cuts in the House budget reduced funding by 11 percent.  Altmire, from McCandless Township, said he believes offices can still operate efficiently even with deeper cuts.

“I would be in favor of reducing that even more. I voted for additional cuts, I put forward a bill to take an addition five percent and an additional ten percent from the office expense,” Altmire said. “I know that if I can do it, I think everybody can do it,” he said.

According to Altmire the ways in which a House member manages his or her office is a good indicator about commitment to fiscal discipline and priorities.

"The taxpayers have a right to expect their elected representatives to make appropriate use of every penny of taxpayer funds."

In addition to the budget cuts, Altmire says he has supported legislation to block pay raises for members of Congress each year he has been in office.