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Oklahoma's James Lankford plans to bed down in D.C. office when Congress is in session

Incoming freshman congressman says family finances won't stretch to rent an apartment
BY CHRIS CASTEEL Published: December 25, 2010

— When incoming Congressman James Lankford hosts an open house for friends and family Jan. 5, the visitors to his small Capitol Hill space will see an official office that will double as his sleeping quarters.

Lankford, the Oklahoma City Republican succeeding Rep. Mary Fallin next month, will join a growing number of lawmakers, including another Oklahoman, who sleep in their Capitol Hill offices during the periods Congress is meeting.

The main reason: money.

An efficiency apartment, in realistic commuting proximity to Capitol Hill, easily can cost more than $1,000 a month, and many are much more than that.

Like the other six members of Oklahoma's congressional delegation, Lankford only will be in Washington for congressional business while maintaining his home back in the state.

And, because Congress often is only in town for two or three days a week and sometimes has weeks-long stretches away, an apartment is seen by some lawmakers as a luxury they can't afford.

Lankford, a former Baptist youth camp director, already has stretched his family's finances with his yearlong campaign to win the congressional seat. Though he will start collecting his $174,000 congressional salary soon, he hasn't had a paycheck in a long time.

“I will sleep in my office until I can get back on my feet financially,” Lankford said.

“I do not have a set date when that will occur. We consumed all our savings during the campaign, and I want to prioritize our family finances for my wife and daughters. I plan to look for housing around D.C. when I can afford the rental costs.”

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