“I think the American people should know that the members of Congress are underpaid.”

That is what Virginia’s retiring Democratic Rep. James Moran told CQ Roll Call.

“I understand that it’s widely felt that they under-perform, but the fact is that this is the board of directors for the largest economic entity in the world.”

Moran also told Roll Call: “Some lawmakers live out of their offices in the nation’s capital, or in small, little (SIC) apartment units that make it hard to spend time with their families.”

A Republican-led appropriations bill just introduced would retain a freeze on the lawmakers’ salaries that has been in place since 2010, in which members of Congress are paid a salary of $174,000 a year (with slightly more for four of the congressional leaders).

That’s salary alone – which led Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., to ask:

“America: Do you think they are underpaid and do you, as the taxpayer that pays their salary, get even close to $174,000?”

Rep. Moran also said that his mission “is wholly quixotic” and will not pass. But Roll Call says “he may bring it up on the House floor to garner attention.”

“Our pay has been frozen for three years, and we’re planning on freezing it a fourth year. … A lot of members can’t even afford to live decently in Washington.”

The Congressional Research Service reports that in 2012 congressional allowances (on top of those $174,000 salaries) ranged from $1,270,129 to $1,564,613.

While there have been perennial reports of how many members of Congress are millionaires, not all are in that financial category.

What if Congress were to purchase – or to build – a hotel with 535 rooms?

Not all members of Congress (especially those millionaires) would want to reside there. But there would probably be little problem filling the rooms not used by members of Congress with either congressional staffers or even lobbyists.

I would imagine that most of the nation’s top hotel chains would be eager to designate – or to even build – such a congressional hotel.

Media wishing to interview Les Kinsolving, please contact [email protected].

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.