Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Taxpayers Paying Life Insurance for Senators

Technically it's not called "life insurance," but it sure sounds like it.

This article discusses what the late Senator Byrd's wife and children get, since he passed away last June while in office:
The Senate handbook says that upon the death of a senator who had been serving in office, “in the next appropriations bill, an item will be inserted for a gratuity to be paid to the widow(er) or other next- of-kin, in the amount of one-year’s compensation.”

As a result, the bill calls for “equal shares” of the late senator’s $193,400 salary to be split between Byrd’s seven children and grandchildren.
A gratuity of $193,400?  Am I alone in thinking this is really strange?  He died, so his family is entitled to a year's salary?  Isn't that the reason why people get life insurance?  I can't imagine many private companies do this or anything similar outside the realm of insurance, do they?  I suppose at one time when a person gave up something in order to represent the country might have caused a "service" type of gratuity to sound reasonable, but given these salaries and basically lifetime tenures, it just does not make sense to me.
I'm trying to track down a copy of the Senate Handbook so I can read this rule for myself, but have only been able to find one for the 110th Congress.  So much for transparency.

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