Selected Privileges and Courtesies Extended to Departing and Former Members of the House of Representatives
Selected Privileges and Courtesies
Extended to Departing and Former Members
of the House of Representatives
Specialist in American National Government
Government and Finance Division
This report provides information on selected privileges and courtesies (with the
exception of federal health insurance, life insurance, and retirement benefits) extended
to departing and former Members of the House of Representatives. Some are derived
from law and House Rules, but most are courtesies that have been extended as a matter
of custom. For additional information, please refer to CRS Report 98-963, Selected
Privileges and Courtesies Extended to Departing and Former Senators; CRS Report
RL30631, Retirement Benefits of Members of Congress; and CRS Report RS21982,
Health Benefits for Members of Congress. This report will be updated periodically as
After Members of the House leave office, they are afforded certain courtesies and
privileges. Some are derived from House Rules, but many are courtesies that have been
extended as a matter of custom. Former Representatives who become lobbyists have
The House Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) has prepared a booklet to assist
departing Members, 111th Congressional Transition, Transition Services for Departingth
Members and Staff ([http://housenet.house.gov], see 111 Congressional Transition).
This document provides a wide range of information on benefits, closing a congressional
office, and the transition. Staff in the CAO’s Office of Employee Assistance (202-225-
2400) are available to meet with Members to discuss their specific needs and will be
holding briefings for departing members through mid-November 2008. Staff in the
CAO’s Office of Members’ Services (202-225-3644) are available to assist Members with
benefit-related questions. Additional information may be obtained from the House
Administration Committee (202-225-8281 or 202-225-2061) or First Call, a branch of
the office of the CAO (202-225-8000, [http://housenet.house.gov]).1
This report has been compiled in consultation with the offices of the House CAO,
Clerk, Sergeant at Arms, director of postal operations, Parliamentarian, Franking
Commission, and House Administration Committee; the offices of the Senate
Parliamentarian and Sergeant at Arms; and the Washington National Records Center of
the National Archives and Records Administration.
Privileges and Courtesies
(1) Floor Privileges. Former Members of the House are entitled to admission to
the floor of the House while it is in session. However, they are not entitled to the
privilege of admission to the House floor and rooms leading thereto if they are (1) a
registered lobbyist or the agent of a foreign principal as defined in Rule XXV, clause 5;
(2) have any direct personal or pecuniary interest in any legislative measure pending
before the House or reported by any committee of the House; or (3) are employed for the
purpose of influencing legislation directly or indirectly, the passage, defeat, or amendment
of any legislative proposal. The Speaker may promulgate regulations that exempt2
ceremonial or educational functions from these restrictions.
By tradition, former Members of the House are also accorded floor privileges during
joint meetings or joint sessions of Congress. Former House Speakers are also entitled to
admission to the Senate floor during sessions of the Senate as long as they are not a
registered lobbyist, agent of a foreign principal, or are employed or retained for the
purpose of influencing legislation (Senate Rule XXIII).
(2) Purchase of Washington, DC, Office Furnishings. Prior to the end of
their term, departing Members who wish to purchase a standard inventory desk and chair
from their Washington, DC offices must submit a request in writing to Chairman Robert
Brady, House Administration Committee, 1309 Longworth House Office Building,
Washington, DC 20515. The cost of each desk is $1,000 and the chair, $500. Purchase
1 See also Congressional Management Foundation, “Management Guidance for Closing a
Congressional Office,” available at [http://www.cmfweb.org/storage/cmfweb/documents/
CMF_Pubs/closing_a_congressional_office2008.pdf], visited June 11, 2008.
2 House Rule IV, clause 4, as amended by H.Res. 648, Feb. 1, 2006, and regulations issued by
the Speaker, Congressional Record, vol. 123, January 6, 1977, p. 321. Relatedly, pursuant to 18
U.S.C. §207(e)(1)(B), as amended by P.L. 110-81, Section 101, Members of the House are
prohibited for a year after leaving Congress from lobbying or making other advocacy contacts
with any Member, officer, or employee of either house of Congress, or any employee of a
legislative office. In addition, the Ethics Reform Act of 1989 prohibits Members of Congress,
for a year after leaving office, from representing an official foreign entity before the U.S.
government, or aiding or advising such entity with the intent to influence any decision of an
agency or employee of the government (18 U.S.C. § 207(f)). There is a further restriction on any
Member who worked personally and substantially on a treaty or trade negotiation and who had
access to information that is not subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.
A former Representative is prohibited from using such information for one year after leaving
office for the purpose of aiding, assisting, advising, or representing anyone other than the United
States regarding such treaty or trade negotiation (18 U.S.C. § 207(b)).
may be made no later than the time of retirement. Payment by personal check or money
order (payable to the U.S. Treasury) must accompany the request. Questions regarding
such purchases should be directed to the House Administration Committee (202-225-8281
(3) Purchase of District Office Furnishings and Equipment. Under law
and House Administration Committee regulations, Members-elect must choose from any
furnishings and equipment currently located and in use in their predecessors’ district
offices. Any furniture or equipment not retained for use by them may be purchased by the
outgoing Member from personal funds (2 U.S.C. § 57).
To exercise this option, the retiring Member must submit a request in writing by
January 2, 2009, to the CAO Customer Solution Center (CSC), B227 Longworth House
Office Building, Washington, DC 20515, identifying the items that he/she is interested
in purchasing. Pricing will be based on fair market value and determined by the CSC. If
there are outstanding obligations on an item, the obligations will be calculated into the
price. Some software licenses may limit use of the software to offices, thus making them
unavailable for purchase by retiring Members. The CSC will provide written notice to the
retiring Member of the availability and price of the requested items. Questions should be
directed to the CSC at 202-225-3994.
(4) Purchase of Personal Digital Assistants and Cellular Phones. Under
regulations from the Committee on House Administration, a retiring Member may
purchase personal digital assistants (PDAs) and cell phones assigned to his/her office. To
exercise this option, prior to January 2, 2009, the retiring Member should contact the
telecom administrator he or she has been working with from the CAO Office of
Telecommunications (OT) at 202-226-4101. This individual will then advise the Member
where to submit a request in writing for the items.
Pricing will be based on fair market value and determined by OT. This office will
provide the retiring Member written information about the prices of the eligible items.
A personal check or money order payable to the U.S. Treasury is required.
The retiring Member is also personally responsible for the shipping costs of
purchased items, including applicable shipping and storage charges.
(5) Shipment of Office Active Files. The staff of the CAO at First Call will
assist departing Members with the preparation and shipping of official papers and records
from their Capitol Hill offices to any location within a Member’s district. Prior to
shipment, Members need to fill out certain forms, which are available through the office
of the CAO at the 111th transition link on the House website [http://housenet.house.gov]
or from First Call, B-227 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515.
Questions should be directed to John Mooney (202-226-5888).
(6) Storage/Shipment of Inactive Office Files. While a Representative is in
office, the Washington National Records Center in Suitland, MD stores inactive office
files under a storage program authorized by the National Archives and Records
By mid-December 2008, a departing Member is obligated to remove his or her
papers from the Records Center. At a Member’s written request, the National Archives
will return the papers, destroy them, or prepare them for shipping. Records can be sent
to a designated library or educational institution, a state archive or historical society, or
a private residence. Members are requested to notify the Records Center about what
should be done with the stored records. The center will prepare the records for shipment
when a transfer is desired, but cannot pay the shipping costs. For additional information,
Members should contact the Washington National Records Center (301-778-1650).
Disposition of these records is also coordinated with the staff of the CAO at First Call
(7) Archival Disposition of Office Files. The office of the Clerk of the House
has prepared a publication, Records Management Manual for Members of the U.S. House
of Representatives, to assist departing Members with the proper disposition of records,
papers, and books in their congressional offices. This document is also available on the
Clerk’s website [http://clerkhouse.house.gov/archiveInfo/memberOfc.php]. Staff from
the Office of History and Preservation are also available for consultation on the
disposition of office files. For further information, contact the Preservation Office at 202-
(8) Franking Privilege. Former Members are authorized to use the frank 90 days
immediately after they leave office. Only official matters relating to the closing of
Members’ offices are frankable (39 U.S.C. § 3210(b)(c)). Any questions should be
directed to the House Commission on Mailing Standards (202-225-9337 or 202-225-
(9) Other Mailing Service. The House Post Office will forward mail for up to
Member should contact Contractor Management, Pitney Bowes, B-240 Longworth House
Office Building (202-225-7078).
(10) Use of the Congressional Research Service (CRS). CRS provides
reference and research assistance on a limited basis to former Members of Congress.
They may use the LaFollette Congressional Reading Room (LM-202, James Madison
Memorial Building), the CRS Rayburn Research Center (B-335 Rayburn Building), and
the CRS Senate Research Center (B-07 Russell Building). Services available at these
locations include reference collections and assistance in the use of Library of Congress
materials and resources. Former Members may also receive CRS general distribution
products, responses to reference questions, and guidance for undertaking further research
and analysis. CRS cannot undertake original research for former Members. Former
Members may request CRS assistance in person, by telephone (202-707-5700), by fax
(202-707-6745), or in writing to Daniel P. Mulhollan, Director, Congressional Research
Service, Washington, DC 20540-7000. Former congressional staff may use the Library
of Congress public reading rooms, but are not permitted to use the LaFollette
Congressional Reading Room or other CRS research centers or facilities. For additional
information, contact Lizanne Kelley, Deputy Associate Director for the Office of
Congressional Affairs and Counselor to the Director (202-707-8833).
(11) Use of the Library of Congress. Borrowing privileges at the Library of
Congress are available if the former Member’s account is clear and he or she resides in
the Washington, DC area. The telephone number of the loan division is 202-707-5445.
The Library is unable to make deliveries to former Members.
(12) Priority in Committee Testimony. When testifying before a congressional
committee, a former Representative is frequently permitted to testify immediately after
incumbent Members of Congress and before other witnesses.
(13) Use of the House Exercise Facilities. For a fee, former Members of the
House and their spouses are permitted use of the Members’ Wellness Center (MWC)
facilities. However, they are not allowed this privilege if they are a registered lobbyist
or agent of a foreign principal as defined in clause 5 of House Rule XXV.3
(14) Parking in the House Side of the Capitol. On a space available basis,
former Members of the House are allowed parking privileges on the House side of the
Capitol. For additional information, contact Parking Security at 202-225-6749.
(15) Other Traditional Benefits and Courtesies Extended to Former
Members of the House.
!Assistance with retirement and other benefits from the Office of
Members’ Services (202-225-3644)
!Membership in the Wright Patman Congressional Federal Credit Union
!Permanent House of Representatives ID card from the Clerk of the House
!Use of the collections in the House Legislative Resource Center and
Senate Library without borrowing privileges
!Use of the House Document Room
!Seating in the House restaurant facilities and Members’ dining room
!Membership in the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress
3 Rules Adopted for the 110th Congress, H.Res. 6, Section 511(c), adopted Jan. 4, 2007,
Congressional Record, vol. 153, p. H-7-H39. Pursuant to H.Res. 6, the Committee on House
Administration has promulgated regulations which require former Members and their spouses
to certify in writing to the Architect of the Capitol that they are not lobbyists or agents of a
foreign principal. These forms are available from the committee or the MWC.