Greener Pastures Await Retiring Members in the Congressional Afterlife

Many are approaching retirement or have already blown past it and they’ll get their federal pensions based on their salary and years of service.

Besides the lifelong (and lucrative) relationships, however, there are a few things they can take with them.

For one, former House members are allowed to come back to Congress and spend time on the House floor—forever.

For lawmakers who have moved on to other – more lucrative – jobs, the perk comes in handy.

Former Rep. David Wu, who resigned in 2011 amid a sex scandal, has been spotted on the House floor several times since his resignation to see through to the finish line initiatives he worked on while in office.

And those fancy lapel pins Congressmen get in every term to make identifying them easy? They get to keep those as well (and some are still keen on wearing them around).

High demand parking on the Hill and access to the House’s members only fitness center (for a fee, of course and not including lobbyists), are among the remnants of the job that can stick around.

But for Morella, retirement from Congress is really just about sweet freedom.

“There is a sense of freedom, but there’s also maybe a little more time that you can put to doing [public service] directly rather than spending a lot of time fundraising when you’re in Congress,” she added.

Morella says she misses the friendship and the camaraderie of her House colleagues. She still goes back from time to time, hugs old colleagues in the hallway, eats in the dining areas.

But she says, the House just doesn’t look much like the place she spent 16 years in.

“I would go out and seek Democrats to get on my legislation to say ‘see this is bipartisan,’” she said.

The retirement of longtime liberal Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., is further proof, Morella says, “that it’s not the friendliest place and it’s not necessarily the place where you could work out differences.”

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