But it also seems to reflect the growing fiscal crisis that the federal government faces. Harper's proposal would produce less than half of the copies authorized for the 24th edition just two years ago.

For that edition, Congress authorized up to 551,000 copies, or however many the provided $218,379 purchased.

Even the dramatic cut in the number of copies printed, however, would still give Congress plenty of copies to carry around. Harper's resolution would reserve 220,500 copies for use in the House, or about 500 copies per member. The bill reserves 10,000 copies for the Senate, or 100 per office, a 90 percent cut from the number authorized for the 24th edition.