The Members Representational Allowance (MRA) formula should be reevaluated and updated to reflect modern office needs and upcoming congressional redistricting, and increased to ensure Congress can meet current and future challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic and the persistent retention problem.
Improving capacity and staff expertise will make Congress work better for the American people, and less reliant on lobbyists or outside experts. In order to provide sufficient compensation to recruit and retain capable staff, a modern MRA is needed. Currently, the MRA is calculated through several factors that require updating. Travel costs are calculated based on distance from D.C. rather than actual cost to travel. The Franking budget is determined by the number of non-business addresses in a district. And lease costs for a given MRA are determined by GSA’s office space prices in a given district. A thorough and updated evaluation of the formula – including a consideration of staff pay in relation to the executive branch and to private industry – will provide a data-driven means of modernizing the MRA.