Magazine article Common Cause Magazine

Busy, Busy

Magazine article Common Cause Magazine

Busy, Busy

Article excerpt

It was quiet year at the House Committee on the District of Columbia. In 1990 the panel reported out five bills and held oversight hearings on four days.

To do this it employed a staff of 40 on a payroll of $2.2 million, outspending committees that oversee U.S. intelligence operations and the mammoth Department of Veterans Affairs. At various times in 1990 it had 12 employees with salaries exceeding $80,000.

And when the committee summarized its accomplishments in the 101st Congress, the 150-page tome featured excerpts of speeches by subcommittee chairs, the full text of an agreement between the University of the District of Columbia and protesting students, plus legislative history going back to 1993.

"That staff is grossly inflated," says a former government official familiar with the District committee. "Salaries are very high. Yet the committee is very nonproductive."

The District committee scored big this year, winning House approval of a new formula for federal payments to the D.C. government (the feds don't pay real estate or other taxes). But observers attribute that success mainly to the absence of two old enemies: former Mayor Marion Barry, heartily reviled on the Hill, and former Rep. Stan Parris, a Virginia Republican who built his political career on District-bashing. …

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