So the party of “financial responsibility” is going to spend about $1.1 million just on reading the Constitution on the House floor:
The amount I get is nearly $1.1 million. $1,071,872.87, to be exact, though of course this is more back-of-the-envelope than exact.
When one chamber of Congress is in session but not working, we the people still have to pay for members’ salaries and expenses, and for their police protection, and for keeping their lights and phones and coffee machines on. Even Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Mike Pence (R-IN) combined don’t blow enough hot air to heat the Capitol in January.
To get this estimate, I took the total FY 2011 costs for House salaries and expenses and House office buildings, then added half the costs of joint House-Senate expenses, the CBO, the Capitol Police and the Capitol power plant. Then I divided that sum by 205, the number of days the House was in session last year, then divided again by 24 (the number of hours in a day) and multiplied by 3 (the estimated length in hours of members reading the Constitution). It might not take three hours to read the document, but on the other hand, Congress is usually in session for considerably less than 205 days a year. Also, I didn’t include staff costs, since most aides will probably be working through the reading. But not all will be, so overall I think this is a conservative estimate.