Resources for Offices

Table of Contents

MRA Changes for COVID/COOP Related Expenses

    o Communications Standards Commission

    o Changes to Employee Benefits During Pandemic

House Paid Internship Program

Parking Policy

    o Parking Policy Overview

    o Permits

    o Multiple Vehicles

    o Unreserved Parking

    o Reserved Parking

    o Member Parking Plates

    o Carpool Parking

    o Evening and Night Parking

    o Temporary Parking

    o Amerians with Disabilities Act

    o Charging Stations

    o Group and Event Parking

    o Violations

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MRA Changes for COVID/COOP Related Expenses

 

March 6, 2020 Dear Colleague:  Use of LY19 funds for Telework equipment and services here

Authorized the use of LY19 funds for telework equipment purchases.  In light of the unique and unusual circumstances presented by the coronavirus, as well as to promote House office emergency preparedness in general, CHA has determined that it is appropriate to permit Member offices to be able to access any remaining unspent LY 2019 funds to purchase teleworking equipment and supplies (e.g. laptop and tablet computers, cell phones, etc.).  Offices may continue to use LY 2020 funds for this purpose, too.

March 11, 2020 Dear Colleague: Use of LY19 funds for Tele-townhalls here

Authorized the use of FY19 funds for coronavirus related tele-townhalls. In light of the Attending Physician’s recommendations with respect to social distancing, we recommend tele-townhalls as a useful and vital alternative way to communicate with your constituents.  We recommend that offices that have not previously held a tele-townhall consult with the Franking Commission.  Also, CHA has determined that remaining unspent LY 2019 funds may be used in connection with previously unscheduled tele-townhalls if conducted for the specific purpose of relaying information regarding the coronavirus. 

March 16, 2020 Dear Colleague:  Commuting Expenses here

Authorized the reimbursement of commuting expenses. Ordinarily, commuting expenses are not reimbursable from either the Members’ Representational Allowance (MRA) or Committee funds. However, the Committee on House Administration may authorize reimbursement of such expenses under “extraordinary circumstances.” The Committee has determined that the current coronavirus pandemic constitutes extraordinary circumstances.

Accordingly, staff who may have unique commuting expenses associated with the coronavirus may seek reimbursement for those expenses. For example, staff who may need to use ride sharing in lieu of public transportation, due to being in a high-risk category or reduction in the availability of public transportation, may seek reimbursement for that expense. There may be other unique commuting scenarios that will be eligible for reimbursement. This authorization is in effect until further notice.

April 21, 2020 Committee Republican Newsletter:  Use of MRA to Purchase Face-coverings

The Committee on House Administration determined that supplies used to make face-coverings and/or masks purchased for official business purposes are eligible for reimbursement from the Members Representational Allowance.

April 30 Committee Republican Newsletter:  Extend Deadline on Letter of Intent

The Committee on House Administration extended the time Members and Committees have to execute LY19 letters of intent through June 30, 2020.

May 6, 2020 Dear Colleague:  Paid Interns are Eligible to Telework here

Authorizes telework for paid interns, including issuance of official equipment. Paid interns are eligible to telework in the event of a disaster, pandemic, or other emergency, as part of an office's continuity of operations plan, provided the educational part of the internship is maintained, any work is incidental to said plan, and participation in the plan is certified by the office.

House offices may issue paid interns House equipment (e.g. laptops, tablets, and mobile phones) which can be used to access the House network. This change is intended to permit paid interns to continue their internships even where their office may be using telework arrangements. This applies to all paid interns, whether they are paid from the Members' Representational Allowance, Program funds, or committee funds.

May 13, 2020 Committee Republican Newsletter: Thermometer Guidance

Authorized reimbursement of oral or ear canal thermometers from May 13, 2020 – June 2, 2020.  Given the Office of the Attending Physician’s most recent guidance for congressional offices and work centers, the Committee on House Administration has received several inquiries about the purchase of thermometers for staff use.  It remains the guidance of the Office of Attending Physician to maintain maximum telework.  The Committee is working with the Office of Attending Physician and the Architect of the Capitol to procure thermometers for distribution at no cost to offices who implement a mandatory health monitoring policy that includes self-monitoring of temperature prior to reporting to the office. 

Given the increased demand for thermometers, the supplier that has been identified will need some time to deliver the thermometers to the Architect of the Capitol for distribution.  As a result, the Committee will temporarily permit offices to purchase or reimburse for oral (either digital or mercury) or ear canal infrared thermometers only, for staff who are required to report to the office, and as a condition of complying with the Employee Self-Monitoring Procedures described in the attached guidance from the Attending Physician. Following the guidance of the Office of Attending Physician, this should be an extremely limited number and only for those work functions that cannot be performed remotely.  If an invoice does not explicitly state that thermometers are oral (either digital or mercury) or ear canal infrared, offices are required to certify on the voucher that thermometers qualify for reimbursement or payment.

This temporary period will last four weeks, beginning May 13, 2020, and expiring on June 2, 2020.  If supply chain issues result in a longer delivery window, the Committee will re-evaluate the temporary period.

Should you have any questions about how to implement a health monitoring policy for staff who must report to the office, please contact House Employment Counsel at (202) 225-7075.

May 28, 2020 Committee Republican Newsletter: Plexiglass and Travel Screening

Authorized the reimbursement of plexiglass/COVID-19 barriers for district offices, travel screening services (TSA PreCheck, CLEAR.) The Committee on House Administration has determined that certain expenditures related to COVID-19 are reimbursable from the Members’ Representational Allowance (MRA).  As a reminder, the Attending Physician continues to recommend maximum telework.

Plexiglass/COVID-19 barriers:  Expenses related to the purchase and/or installation of plexiglass sneeze-guards or similar barriers in a House district office that are intended to minimize exposure to and transmission of COVID-19 are reimbursable from an office’s MRA.  A Member office may directly contract with a third-party vendor to have such barriers installed, or may reimburse a landlord in instances where the landlord has passed through those costs to the tenant(s).  The acquisition and installation of such barriers to mitigate against COVID-19 will be considered an ordinary and necessary expense, and not a capital improvement to the leased premises.  An office must provide standard voucher documentation, including an invoice and any underlying contract where applicable, to CAO Finance to process a reimbursement. 

For health-related questions regarding installation of such barriers or other proposed alterations to district office leased spaces related to COVID-19 response, please contact the Office of the Attending Physician at (202) 225-5421.  For other questions regarding the installation of such barriers or any other proposed alterations to district office leased spaces, please contact the Office of Administrative Counsel at (202) 225-6969.

Travel Screening: In order to ensure the safety of Members, fees associated with certain travel screening services are reimbursable from the MRA when those services are used for official travel by Members.  Specifically, enrollment or other fees associated with TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, and CLEAR will be considered ordinary and necessary expenses associated with official travel and reimbursable from the MRA when those services are used for official travel by Members.  In general, these travel services expedite identity verification and security screening, and allow for individuals to better adhere to social distancing procedures and limit exposure to crowded areas.  The Committee understands that enrollment in Global Entry includes enrollment in TSA PreCheck.  Official funds may not be used to pay for upgrades to a CLEAR plan that either enable additional travelers other than the Member to access CLEAR kiosks, lines, and facilities or that provide access to non-travel services. 

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Communications Standards Commission

March 15, 2020 Committee on House Administration and Ethics Joint Dear Colleague on Update about the Coronavirus here

Authorized certain communications during primary election blackout period.

Members are generally limited from sending mass mailings and mass communications in the “blackout period,” the 90 days prior to any primary or general election or caucus for any federal, state, or local election in which the Member is a candidate. However, Commission regulations expressly permit Members to send communications regarding threats to life safety. The coronavirus qualifies as a threat to life safety, so mass communications limited to information about the coronavirus will generally be exempt from the blackout rule. Note that communications mailed via USPS do not fall under this exemption and are still prohibited.  A Member who is otherwise in a blackout period is strongly advised to get prior approval from the Commission for a communication about the coronavirus.

PLEASE NOTE: As was stated in the March 30, 2020 Dear Colleague below the CARES Act allowed the Commission to update this policy and offices can now send mail related to coronavirus life and safety issues during the blackout as long as they first receive an Advisory Opinion though the standard process.

March 30, 2020 Communications Standards Commission Dear Colleague on Franking Changes due to COVID-19 here

The CARES Act updated statutory provisions in Title 39, which provide the Commission authority to waive blackout restrictions so Members may use franked mail for communications related to threats to life safety. The Commission recently used this new authority to unanimously update the House Communication Standards Manual and waive the blackout restriction for unsolicited mass postal mail sent in response to or addressing COVID-19.

As a reminder, Members are generally limited from sending mass mailings and mass communications in the “blackout period,” the 90 days prior to any primary or general election or caucus for any federal, state, or local election in which the Member is a candidate. However, this update to the Commission regulations now expressly permits Members to send all types of communications regarding threats to life safety, including postal mail. 

This exception to the blackout restrictions is intended to serve the bona fide purpose of protecting life and safety. Communications sent under this exception must reflect that by including only germane information, resources, and materials. Communications sent under this exception are required to receive an Advisory Opinion through the standard request process in the online portal.

April 03, 2020 Joint House Administration-Ethics Dear Colleague on Update about the coronavirus and solicitation here

Authorized on a temporary basis the use of official communication to solicit for blood donationas and in-kind resources.  Accordingly, we wish to take this opportunity to announce a new, temporary exception to longstanding guidance regarding solicitation activity. Effective immediately, Members are permitted to use official communications for some solicitation activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.*  This guidance only applies during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

During this crisis, Members are temporarily permitted to use official communications to solicit for blood donations and in-kind resources—such as volunteer services, food, hand sanitizer, disinfecting materials, and personal protective equipment (PPE) including, but not limited to, gloves, masks, and gowns—on behalf of organizations defined as charitable under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) § 170(c).  Qualified organizations under IRC § 170(c) include those charitable organizations recognized under IRC § 501(c)(3), as well as state or local governmental entities, including public schools, and certain veterans’ organizations.  Please note the use of official communications to solicit for such organizations only applies to blood donations and in-kind resources, and does not allow for the solicitation of money for any individual or organization. 

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Changes to Employee Benefits During Pandemic

Student Loan Repayment Program here

Student loans are automatically being placed in “administrative forbearance” by lenders, currently our student loan repayment rules requires the loans not to be in forbearance in order to be eligible, the CAO is sending an abstract to CHA requesting that be changed so the House can continue to make contributions. The good news is, if approved the payments that the House makes will go 100% towards principal since interest doesn’t accrue during the forbearance period. Second, the taxes currently paid by the employee on this benefit will no longer be required for up to $5,250 of the benefit starting April 1. The CAO is working up a communication to explain this and will run by us first, then it will be sent to every staffer that participates in the program which is currently 1,950.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act here

Requires that House employing offices provide their employees with (1) emergency paid sick leave, and (2) for qualified employees, expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. These provisions will apply from April 2, 2020 through December 31, 2020.

 

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House Paid Internship Program

The Committee on House Administration has approved new regulations governing paid interns in the House. The Committee has adopted the following changes, effective immediately:

  • Each office has a Program allowance of $25,000 per calendar year.
  • Program funds may be used to pay interns who work in District Office(s).

Interns paid through the House Paid Internship Program are subject to the same federal laws, House rules, regulations and training requirements as interns paid from the MRA. Additionally, interns paid through the House Paid Internship Program must be part of a demonstrated education program and may not be employed by the Member for more than 120 calendar days.


Note: Due to the unique circumstances regarding coronavirus, paid interns are eligible for telework. Please contact the Committee on House Administration for more information.

  • E-Dear Colleague can be found HERE.
  • Payroll Authorization Form can be found HERE.
  • Regulations for the House Paid Internship Program can be found HERE.
     

For any additional questions, contact the Committee on House Administration at 202-225-8281. 

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Committee on House Administration Parking Policy 116th Congress

 

(Effective Date February 7, 2019)

 

Resolved, that the Committee on House Administration Parking Policy is hereby adopted as follows:

Parking Policy Overview

1. Parking in the United States House of Representatives garages, lots, and designated parking areas is a privilege for Members, staff, and authorized personnel in support of the House of Representatives. Parking in these areas shall be on a permit only basis.

2. All vehicles parked in House permit-only areas must display both valid license plates and a current House parking permit. Current permits must be displayed visibly on motorcycles and on bicycles. All parking permits must be clearly displayed while parked on House premises. In addition to a current permit, all staff may be required to show a valid House ID upon entering House parking areas within the secured perimeter. Staff members, in addition to a current permit, must show a valid House ID when entering all other House parking areas.

3. The House will not be liable for any damage or theft caused to any motor vehicle, or contents thereof, while parked in a House parking garage or on a House parking lot, whether or not the garage or lot is staffed.

4. Any situation or circumstance not defined within this parking policy will be decided upon by the Committee on House Administration in consultation with House Parking Security.

Permits

1. Parking permits must be authorized through the office of a House employing authority and are available only to current House Members and staff holding a valid Congressional ID and current license plate. Shared employees may be issued a permit from any of their employing offices. Permits are exclusively for the use of the employing offices and House staff. Employing officers and House staff may not transfer permits.

2. Members and staff receiving a mass transit benefit are not eligible for parking permits (permanent or temporary) unless approval is obtained from the Committee on House Administration. If approval is granted, the requestor shall pick-up the temporary permit from the House Parking Security office (G2-28 Rayburn HOB) and park in a lot designated by House Parking Security (HPS). Approval is not needed for weekend and holiday parking, however, a temporary permit must be obtained from the House Parking Security office (G2-28, RHOB) and can only be requested one business day in advance of the desired date of use. Members and staff who utilize mass transit benefits can obtain a bicycle permit for the permit-only bicycle racks and still retain their mass transit benefits.

3. Spouses of Members may park in any garage or lot, on a space available basis and will be issued temporary permits if they are not using the Member plate. In addition, spouses will be required to present a Spouse ID. Due to the lack of available spaces, Spouses of Members may only park on the G3 level of the Rayburn Garage if they use a H-plate with an RMC parking permit on it.

4. Permits cannot be assigned without written notification from an employing office on office letterhead and signed by office parking coordinator, the Chief of Staff, or Member of the issuing office.

5. It is the responsibility of the employing office to retrieve parking permits when staff departs from their office. Employing offices whose departing staff have not returned their parking permits will be subject to a 30-day hold before re-assignment of the permit. (Note: Departing employees may receive a temporary parking permit for their last day(s) of employment in order for the permit to be removed in a timely manner.)

6. Non-staff temporary permits may be issued at the request of an official parking coordinator, the Chief of Staff or Member. The location of parking will be determined by House Parking Security. Requests should be on the office letterhead, signed by the official parking coordinator, Chief of Staff, or Member and provide the user’s name as it appears on government issued ID and vehicle information (make, model, color, and license plate information). The maximum duration of a temporary permit is 14 business days in a 6-month period. Any individual needing a temporary permit for more than 14 business days in a 6-month period must submit a request to the Committee on House Administration for approval. Registered lobbyists will not receive temporary permits.

7. Authorized permit holders who temporarily need to use an alternate vehicle should visit House Parking Security to obtain a temporary permit for that vehicle.

Multiple Vehicles

1. Members and staff may register more than one vehicle to a single parking permit.

2. Individuals with a House ID that have multiple vehicles should register their additional vehicle(s) with their employing office’s parking coordinator who will notify the Office of House Garages and Parking Security. Permits will be applied to each registered vehicle by the Office of House Garages and Parking Security (G2-28 Rayburn).

3. An individual with House ID may not have multiple vehicles parked in House permit-only areas at any time. A Member and their spouse may simultaneously have vehicles parked in House permit-only areas provided that each has a House ID.

4. Staff registering more than one (1) vehicle will be required to show vehicle registration for all vehicles as proof of ownership before a permit is affixed to the windshield.

Unreserved Parking

1. House Members may choose their unreserved parking space from any available space in the various garages/lots/streets.

2. Unreserved staff parking is available on a first-come, first-served basis in the designated parking areas assigned to the employing office. This does not include special needs, reserved spaces, and electric vehicles requiring charging stations.

3. Vehicles, including motorcycles and bicycles, cannot be stored in any unreserved space in a House parking area, except Member vehicles parked during periods when the House is not in session, the Member is traveling on official business, Member illness or similar circumstances. Stored is defined as being continuously parked in an unreserved space for more than thirty (30) consecutive calendar days. A vehicle not displaying both a current parking permit and valid license plates will also be considered a stored and unauthorized vehicle.

Reserved Parking

1. Members of the House may choose their reserved parking spaces from any unassigned space in the various garages. Only Members whose parking space is on the G3 level of the Rayburn Garage may reserve a space on that level.

2. Staff must choose their reserved space from the designated parking areas indicated on their permit.

3. Each person who reserves indoor space incurs additional taxable income as a working condition fringe benefit. Under the tax code and IRS regulations, Members and their employees have imputed taxable income to the extent that the fair market value of Government-provided parking exceeds $255.00/month. The fair market value of a space at the House of Representatives is $290.00/month and therefore, as of January 3, 2017, the imputed taxable income is $35.00/month. These amounts are subject to change. (Contact Office of Payroll and Benefits for current rates at extension 5-1435.)

4. Only individuals with reserved parking will be permitted to park their vehicles in their designated spaces for an indefinite period of time with valid license plates.

5. The Committee on House Administration reserves the right to limit the number of reserved spaces at any time.

Member Parking Plates

1. Member parking plates are only for the use of the Member and spouse, as well as for immediate transportation of the Member by staff. Only Members whose plates contain a Rayburn Member of Congress (RMC) parking permit may park on the G3 level of the Rayburn garage using the Member plate. The RMC permits on the Member plates must be displayed visibly.

2. Staff person driving the Member while utilizing the Member Plate must have a parking permit or a temporary parking permit assigned to their vehicle that has been issued through the Parking Office

3. Former Members (except registered lobbyists) will be permitted to park using either temporary permits or Member parking plates from previous Congresses, but must also present a former Member ID.

Carpool Parking

House employees interested in carpool parking should contact the Office of House Garages and Parking Security (extension 5-6749). Carpools must have a minimum of two employees from House employing offices. The carpool permit must come from the employing office’s parking roster of one of the carpool members.

If multiple vehicles associated with a carpool are found in the House parking areas, simultaneously, individuals associated with this carpool will lose their carpool privileges for the remainder of the current Congress.

Evening and Night Parking

Swing shift employees, (work schedule 2:00 pm to 7:30 am) should park in areas designated by House Parking Security. Certain parking areas designated by House Parking Security will be made accessible to swing shift employees starting at 4 pm based on space availability. Swing shift employees who are held over on assignment will be required to move to a designated area before 7:30 am. Parking coordinators who are interested in parking for Swing shift employees should contact House Parking Security (extension 5-6749). All swing shift employees’ parking must be authorized via their office’s parking coordinator.

Temporary Parking

Parking on D Street S.W., the marked spots on C Street S.W. and the designated spots in Lot 9 are limited to temporary parking for parents of children attending the HRCCC for the purposes of dropping off or picking up their children and for attending meetings and functions at the HRCCC.  Parking is on a first come, first serve basis and parents must move their vehicles upon leaving the Center. 

Americans with Disabilities Act

Staff authorized a parking permit by their employing authority that require accessible parking based on special needs considerations will be accommodated on an as-needed basis in spaces clearly marked for that purpose. Such permits will come from the pool of permits assigned to the office. Staff will be required to display the State-assigned handicap designation and may be required to provide additional documentation to House Parking.

Charging Stations

Charging stations throughout the House campus for electrical vehicles on a fee paid basis.  Prior to utilizing these charging stations, permit holders will need to register through Pay.Gov. 

Group and Event Parking

Group and Event Parking

Requested group and event parking may be approved on House parking areas for morning events prior to 8:30 am and events after 5:30 pm dependent upon space availability. The request should be made, in writing on office letterhead and signed by the Member or parking coordinator of the requesting entity. The letter should contain the name of the group, event date, time, location, and approximate number of vehicles requesting parking. If approved, other information may be required for security reasons. Requests should be emailed or faxed to House Garages and Parking Security (G2-28 Rayburn, fax 6-1950). Group parking needs will be accommodated in House parking areas designated by House Parking Security.

Violations

Violations include, but are not limited to:

  • Failure to display proper identification (license plates and parking permit or Member plate) while in a garage, lot, or designated on-street parking area;
  • Failure to park in the assigned space, garage, lot, or parking area;
  • Failure to park within marked spaces;
  • Improper use of a Member plate;
  • Unauthorized parking in reserved spaces; handicap parking spaces, special needs parking spaces or charging stations; and
  • Storing of a vehicle in any House garage, lot, or designated parking area.

Generally, notice of violation(s) will be provided as follows:

  • First Violation: Written notice from House Garages and Parking Security placed on vehicle;
  • Second Violation: E-mail or letter to permit holder;
  • Third Violation: E-mail or letter to employing authority and permit holder;
  • Fourth Violation: Suspension of parking privileges for thirty (30) days. The employing authority may not issue this permit to another employee during the suspension.
  • Fifth Violation: Suspension of parking privileges for sixty (60) days. The employing authority may not issue this permit to another employee during the suspension.
  • Sixth Violation: Suspension of parking privileges for the remainder of the Congress or 180 days (whichever is greater). The employing authority may not issue this permit to another employee for 90 days.

Members and staff who are habitual Parking Policy violators will be towed and potentially banned from parking on the House Campus permanently, subject to the direction of the Committee on House Administration.

Shared Employees who are in violation of the parking policy and have had their parking privileges suspended may not circumvent the suspension by obtaining a parking permit from another office for which they are employed.

Any non-temporary permit user on the mass transit list with a vehicle in permit-only areas will have their permit immediately removed from their vehicle.

Vehicles that are determined to be a security risk or create a hazard as determined by the Capitol Police, will be immediately towed.

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