For House, budget cuts hit close to home

Symbolic gesture trims mass mailings, interns

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In fiscal 2006, congressional mail amounted to nearly 1 percent of the $3.79 billion budget for the entire legislative branch, according to the Congressional Research Service. The mailings have been on the wane for more than a decade; that amount was less than a third of the $113 million they cost in 1988.

“With the advent of email and Facebook and your website, there are other ways to get that information out,” said Mr. diSanto. “One of the reasons we’ve been able to run lean is we don’t do any mailings.”

In an institution laden with history, items that are anachronistic and inefficient represent a ripe crop of low-hanging fruit. In July, House members agreed not to distribute the voluminous Congressional Record and copies of legislation in paper form. But Congress still spends much on old-fashioned and cumbersome trappings.

“There are all kinds of documents the House clerk prints instead of just putting online. You can go there and photocopy them for 10 cents a page, but then they have to pay to have a staff person there and a room,” said Mr. Schuman. “Offices can get mail delivered three or four times a day. Does that really make sense?”

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