Bill would eliminate lawmakers' 'free mail'

A bipartisan duo wants to repeal the congressional franking privilege that allows congressional offices to avoid pre-paying for postage on mass mailings.

The bill, introduced by Reps. Rob WoodallWilliam (Rob) Robert WoodallCook moves status of 6 House races as general election sprint begins 2 women win Georgia Dem runoffs, extending streak for female candidates Bourdeaux wins Georgia Dem runoff, in latest win by female candidates MORE (R-Ga.) and Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthDems should run as economic progressives, says ex-Obama strategist Democrats must reconcile party factions to raise blue wave odds Senate Dems want DOJ review of Giuliani's work for foreign entities MORE (D-Ill.), would repeal the privilege, which allows lawmakers to use their signatures on envelopes in lieu of postage.

Franking originally became statute during the first Congress, in 1789. It was repealed in 1873, but later reinstated. Woodall and Duckworth argue that the practice has become archaic and unnecessary since then.

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"The franking privilege is an outdated practice that should have stopped long ago," Woodall said in a statement. "To finally eliminate it once and for all would be a small but historic step towards rebuilding trust between the American people and their representatives in Washington."

"This legislation will take an important step in making members of Congress accountable to the taxpayers," Duckworth added.

Multiple government watchdog groups have endorsed the legislation, including Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Public Citizen, Common Cause and Council for Citizens Against Government Waste.