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 WoodallOmar endorses progressive Georgia Democrat running for House seat House candidate asks FEC to let her use campaign funds for health insurance House Democrats launch effort to register minority voters in key districts MORE (R-Ga.) and Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthJoe Walsh ends GOP primary challenge to Trump Illinois senators meet with Amtrak CEO over ,000 price tag for wheelchair users Democrats ask Amtrak to review policies after wheelchair users quoted K ticket price 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 It was repealed in 1873, but later reinstated.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"The franking privilege is an outdated practice that should have stopped long ago," Woodall said in a statement.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.