WASHINGTON — Republican Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland gave his staffers $44,006 in bonuses last year.
Many other congressional lawmakers also rewarded staffers with year-end bonuses, and Harris found other ways to save. He expects to return a significant amount of unspent office money — much more than $100,000 — to the federal government.
Harris spent $799,896 on staff salaries last year, according to information provided by his office. He says that’s less than either of his two predecessors — former Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil and former Republican Rep. Wayne Gilchrest — spent on salaries during their last year in office.
“I promised to cut government spending and started by saving over $200,000 in salary from the amount the previous two representatives spent,” Harris said in a statement. “That’s real savings.”
During his first year in office in 2009, Kratovil spent slightly less — $763,568 — than Harris spent on salaries during his freshman year.
Some of Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s staff received bonuses in fiscal year 2011 based on shifts in responsibilities and workloads, according to her spokeswoman, Rachel MacKnight.
The bonuses, which totaled about $72,000, are an “important tool” when offices face funding cuts or possible shutdowns, or when their financing comes from temporary spending legislation — or continuing resolutions — rather than year-long appropriations bills, she said.
The bonuses for 30 staff members averaged about $2,400, she said.
No bonuses were given in fiscal year 2010 and no across-the-board raises were made to staff in either fiscal year 2010 or 2011.
“This financial uncertainty makes it very difficult to put permanent raises in place,” MacKnight said.
Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin gave bonuses in fiscal year 2009 and performance-based raises in 2010. He did not give bonuses in fiscal year 2011 because he thought his staff should receive the same treatment as other federal employees, whose pay was frozen in January 2011, said spokeswoman Sue Walitsky.
Cardin’s new subcommittee chairmanship on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee didn’t come with a salary allowance, unlike his previous subcommittee chairmanship on the Senate Judiciary Committee. An across-the-board budget cut for all Senate offices also limited funds, Walitsky said.
“We saw a significant drop
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