Bartlett hopes to cut perks in Congress


WASHINGTON -- If Rep. Roscoe Bartlett has his way, congressional perks such as a members dining room and free parking at Washington National Airport and the Capitol will become obsolete.

When people see special privilege, "They say, 'Gee, that reminds me, I really do hate Congress,' " the Frederick Republican said in a recent interview.

He said Congress does not need that image.

Mr. Bartlett is drafting a bill that he said would do away with many of the perks and also would remove the exemptions Congress has carved out for itself from many laws -- such as those prohibiting age and sex discrimination.

He introduced a bill last year that would have eliminated many of the legal exemptions, but it languished.

Mr. Bartlett said real reform is important.

"I want to pay for my parking under my office," he said. Everyone else in Washington has to pay, he said.

Aides said his planned reform bill is in the research phase. They said it was too early to pinpoint other examples of perks he would target.

Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., who joined Mr. Bartlett in sponsoring another reform measure, said some perks that the Western Maryland congressman is proposing for elimination would go too far.

"I am from the city of Stamford," Mr. Shays said, where workers have free parking.

Mr. Shays agreed, however, that the "designated spot" for parking at Washington National Airport should be taken away.

He said members of Congress should park in regular lots there, but that the federal government should pick up the costs, the way private companies reimburse for employee expenses.

Bartlett spokeswoman Cheri Jacobus predicted that congressional reform will be difficult to pass. But, she said, her boss "will have his two cents worth and that means something."

She said Mr. Bartlett's desire for reform predated his tenure in Congress.

"When he was not a part of the institution he saw these things," Ms. Jacobus said.

"Now that he's in the institution," he wants to change them, she said.

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