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 WoodallThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Sanders set to shake up 2020 race House Dems release 2020 GOP 'retirements to watch' for Dem raises more than 0k since declaring bid for Georgia House seat MORE (R-Ga.) and Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthWhite House, GOP defend Trump emergency declaration Dem senator thinks Senate may be able to block emergency declaration Trump’s new Syria timetable raises concern among key anti-ISIS allies 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 It was repealed in 1873, but later reinstated.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"The franking privilege is an outdated practice that should have stopped long ago," Woodall said in a statement.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.