2 U.S. Code § 503 - Official mail of persons entitled to use congressional frank

(a) Congressional committee regulations for expenditure of appropriations for official mailExcept as otherwise provided in this section, funds appropriated by this Act or any other Act for expenses of official mail of any person entitled to use the congressional frank may be expended only in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Committee on Rules and Administration of the Senate or the Committee on House Oversight of the House of Representatives, as applicable. Such regulations shall require—
(1)
individual accountability for use of official mail by each person entitled to use the congressional frank;
(2)
(A)
with respect to the House of Representatives, allocation of funds for official mail to be made to each such person with respect to each session of Congress (with no transfer to any other session or to any other such person); and
(B)
with respect to the Senate, allocation of funds for official mail to be made to each such person with respect to each session of Congress (with no transfer to any other session, other than transfers from the first session of a Congress to the second session of that Congress, or to any other such person); and
(3)
with respect to the House of Representatives, that in addition to any other report or information made available to the public (through the House Communications Standards Commission or otherwise) regarding the use of the frank, the Chief Administrative Officer of the House of Representatives shall include in the quarterly report of receipts and expenditures submitted to the House of Representatives a statement (based solely on data provided for that purpose by the Committee on House Oversight of the House of Representatives and the House Communications Standards Commission) of costs incurred for official mail by each person entitled to use the congressional frank.
(b) Postmaster General functionsThe Postmaster General, in consultation with the Committee on Rules and Administration of the Senate and the Committee on House Oversight of the House of Representatives
(1)
shall monitor use of official mail by each person entitled to use the congressional frank;
(2)
at least monthly, shall notify any person with an allocation under subsection (a)(2)(A) as to the amount that has been used and any person with an allocation under subsection (a)(2)(B) as to the percentage of the allocation that has been used; and
(3)
may not carry or deliver official mail the cost of which is in excess of an allocation under subsection (a)(2).
(c) Source of funds for expenses of official mailExpenses of official mail of the Senate and the House of Representatives may be paid only from funds specifically appropriated for that purpose and funds so appropriated—
(1)
may be supplemented by other appropriated funds only if such supplementation is provided for by law or by regulation under subsection (a); and
(2)
may not be supplemented by funds from any other source, public or private.
(d) Maintenance or use of unofficial office accounts or defrayal of official expenses from certain funds prohibitedNo Senator or Member of the House of Representatives may maintain or use, directly or indirectly, an unofficial office account or defray official expenses for franked mail, employee salaries, office space, furniture, or equipment and any associated information technology services (excluding handheld communications devices) from—
(1)
funds received from a political committee or derived from a contribution or expenditure (as such terms are defined in section 30101 of title 52);
(2)
funds received as reimbursement for expenses incurred by the Senator or Member in connection with personal services provided by the Senator or Member to the person making the reimbursement; or
(3)
any other funds that are not specifically appropriated for official expenses.
(e) Official Mail Allowance in House of Representatives
(1) The use of funds of the House of Representatives which are made available for official mail of Members, officers, and employees of the House of Representatives who are persons entitled to use the congressional frank shall be governed by regulations promulgated—
(A)
by the Committee on House Oversight of the House of Representatives, with respect to allocation and expenditures relating to official mail (except as provided in subparagraph (B)); and
(B)
by the House Communications Standards Commission, with respect to matters under section 3210(a)(6)(D) of title 39.
(2) Funds used for official mail—
(A)
with respect to a Member of the House of Representatives, shall be available, in a session of Congress, in a total amount, as determined under paragraph (1)(A), of not more than the product of (i) 3 times the single-piece rate applicable to first class mail, and (ii) the number (as determined by the Postmaster General) of addresses (other than business possible delivery stops) in the congressional district, as such addresses are described in section 3210(d)(7)(B) of title 39; and
(B)
with respect to any other person entitled to use the congressional frank in the House of Representatives (including any Member of the House of Representatives who receives an allocation under subsection (a)(2) with respect to duties as an elected officer of, or holder of another position in, the House of Representatives), shall be available, in a session of Congress, in a total amount determined under paragraph (1)(A).
(f) Mass mailing; submission of samples or description of proposed mail matter; advisory opinion
(1)
Except as provided in paragraph (2), a Member of the House of Representatives shall, before making any mass communication, submit a sample or description of the matter involved to the House Communications Standards Commission for an advisory opinion as to whether such proposed communication is in compliance with applicable provisions of law, rule, or regulation.
(2)
Paragraph (1) does not apply in the case of any type of mass communication which is designated as exempt from the requirements of such paragraph as provided under regulations of the House Communications Standards Commission.
(g) “Member of the House of Representatives” and “person entitled to use the congressional frank” definedAs used in subsections (a) through (f)—
(1)
the term “Member of the House of Representatives” means a Representative in, or a Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, the Congress;
(2)
the term “person entitled to use the congressional frank” means a Senator, Member of the House of Representatives, or other person authorized to use the frank under section 3210(b) of title 39; and
(3) the term “mass communication” means a mass mailing described in section 3210(a)(6)(E) of title 39 or any other unsolicited communication of substantially identical content which is transmitted to 500 or more persons in a session of Congress, as provided under regulations of the House Communications Standards Commission, except that such term does not include—
(A)
any communication from a Member of the House of Representatives to another Member of the House of Representatives, a Senator, or any Federal, State, or local government official;
(B)
any news release to the communications media;
(C)
any such mass mailing or unsolicited communication made in direct response to a communication from a person to whom the mass mailing or unsolicited communication was transmitted; or
(D)
in the case of any such unsolicited communication which is transmitted in a digital format, a communication for which the cost of the content is less than a threshold amount established under regulations of the House Communications Standards Commission.
(h) Omitted
(i) Effective date

This section and the amendments made by this section shall apply with respect to sessions of Congress beginning with the first session of the One Hundred Second Congress, except that, with respect to the Senate, subsection (d) shall apply beginning on May 1, 1992, and the funds referred to in paragraph (3) of such subsection shall not include personal funds of a Senator or Member of the House of Representatives.

Editorial Notes
References in Text

The amendments made by this section, referred to in subsec. (i), means the amendments made by section 311(h) of Pub. L. 101–520, which amended section 6314 of this title and sections 3210 and 3216 of Title 39, Postal Service, and amended provisions set out as notes under sections 3210 and 3216 of Title 39.

Codification

Section was formerly classified to section 59e of this title prior to editorial reclassification and renumbering as this section.

Section is from the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 1991.

Subsec. (h) of this section made the amendments specified in the References in Text note above.

Amendments

2020—Subsec. (a)(3). Pub. L. 116–260, § 116(b)(2)(B), substituted “House Communications Standards Commission” for “House Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards” in two places.

Subsec. (e)(1)(B). Pub. L. 116–260, § 116(b)(2)(B), substituted “House Communications Standards Commission” for “House Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards”.

Subsec. (f). Pub. L. 116–260, § 116(c)(2)(B), designated existing provisions as par. (1), substituted “Except as provided in paragraph (2), a Member” for “A Member”, and added par. (2).

Pub. L. 116–260, § 116(c)(2)(A), substituted “any mass communication” for “any mass mailing”, “matter” for “mail matter”, “House Communications Standards Commission” for “House Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards”, and “such proposed communication” for “such proposed mailing”.

Pub. L. 116–260, § 116(b)(2)(B), substituted “House Communications Standards Commission” for “House Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards”.

Subsec. (g)(3). Pub. L. 116–260, § 116(c)(2)(C), added par. (3).

2003—Subsec. (d). Pub. L. 108–83, in introductory provisions, struck out “in the House, or official expenses” after “defray official expenses” and “in the Senate” after “(excluding handheld communications devices)”.

2001—Subsec. (d). Pub. L. 107–68, in introductory provisions, inserted “in the House, or official expenses for franked mail, employee salaries, office space, furniture, or equipment and any associated information technology services (excluding handheld communications devices) in the Senate” after “expenses”.

1999—Subsec. (a)(3). Pub. L. 106–57, § 103(a)(4)(B), substituted “costs incurred for official mail by” for “costs charged against the Official Mail Allowance for”.

Subsec. (b)(2). Pub. L. 106–19 substituted “any person with an allocation under subsection (a)(2)(A) as to the amount that has been used and any person with an allocation under subsection (a)(2)(B)” for “any person with an allocation under subsection (a)(2)”.

Subsec. (e)(1). Pub. L. 106–57, § 103(a)(1)(A), in introductory provisions, substituted “The use of funds of the House of Representatives which are made available for official mail of Members, officers, and employees of the House of Representatives who are persons entitled to use the congressional frank shall be governed by regulations promulgated—” for “There is established in the House of Representatives an Official Mail Allowance for Members, officers, and employees of the House of Representatives who are persons entitled to use the congressional frank. Regulations for use of the Official Mail Allowance shall be prescribed—”.

Subsec. (e)(1)(A). Pub. L. 106–57, § 103(a)(1)(B), substituted “official mail (except as provided in subparagraph (B))” for “the Allowance”.

Subsec. (e)(2). Pub. L. 106–57, § 103(a)(2)(A), substituted “Funds used for official mail—” for “The Official Mail Allowance—” in introductory provisions.

Pub. L. 106–57, § 102, made technical correction to directory language of Pub. L. 105–275, § 104(a). See 1998 Amendment note below.

Subsec. (e)(2)(A) to (C). Pub. L. 106–57, § 103(a)(2)(B), (C), redesignated subpars. (B) and (C) as (A) and (B), respectively, and struck out former subpar. (A) which read as follows: “shall be available for postage for franked mail sent at a first class, third class, or fourth class rate;”.

Subsec. (e)(3). Pub. L. 106–57, § 103(a)(3), struck out par. (3) which read as follows:

“(3)(A) Subject to subparagraph (B), each Member of the House of Representatives may transfer amounts from the Members’ Representational Allowance of the Member to the Official Mail Allowance of the Member.

“(B) The total amount a Member may so transfer with respect to a session of Congress may not exceed $25,000.”

1998—Subsec. (e)(2). Pub. L. 105–275, § 104(a), as amended by Pub. L. 106–57, § 102, inserted “and” at end of subpar. (B), substituted a period for “; and” at end of subpar. (C), and struck out subpar. (D) which read as follows: “shall not be available for payment of any nonpostage fee or charge, including any fee or charge for express mail, express mail drop shipment, certified mail, registered mail, return receipt, address correction, or postal insurance.”

Subsec. (e)(4). Pub. L. 105–275, § 104(b), struck out par. (4) which read as follows: “The Members’ Representational Allowance shall be available to a Member of the House of Representatives for the payment of nonpostage fees and charges referred to in paragraph (2)(D) and for postage for mail for official business sent outside the United States.”

1996—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 104–186, § 203(22)(B)(i), substituted “House Oversight” for “House Administration” in introductory provisions.

Subsec. (a)(3). Pub. L. 104–186, § 203(22)(A), (B)(ii), substituted “Chief Administrative Officer of the House of Representatives” for “Clerk of the House of Representatives” and “House Oversight” for “House Administration”.

Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 104–186, § 203(22)(B)(iii), substituted “House Oversight” for “House Administration” in introductory provisions.

Subsec. (e)(1)(A). Pub. L. 104–186, § 203(22)(B)(iv), substituted “House Oversight” for “House Administration”.

Subsec. (e)(2)(A). Pub. L. 104–186, § 203(22)(B)(v), struck out “only” after “available”.

Subsec. (e)(3)(A). Pub. L. 104–186, § 203(22)(B)(vi), substituted “Members’ Representational Allowance” for “Official Expenses Allowance and the Clerk Hire Allowance”.

Subsec. (e)(4). Pub. L. 104–186, § 203(22)(B)(vii), substituted “Members’ Representational Allowance” for “Official Expenses Allowance”.

1991—Subsec. (i). Pub. L. 102–229 substituted “beginning on May 1, 1992,” for “with respect to sessions of Congress beginning with the second session of the One Hundred Second Congress,”.

Statutory Notes and Related Subsidiaries
Change of Name

Committee on House Oversight of House of Representatives changed to Committee on House Administration of House of Representatives by House Resolution No. 5, One Hundred Sixth Congress, Jan. 6, 1999.

Effective Date of 2020 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 116–260 applicable with respect to communications disseminated on or after Dec. 27, 2020, see section 116(f) of div. I of Pub. L. 116–260, set out as a note under section 501 of this title.

Effective Date of 2003 Amendment

Pub. L. 108–83, title I, § 105(b), Sept. 30, 2003, 117 Stat. 1018, provided that:

“The amendment made by subsection (a) [amending this section] shall apply with respect to fiscal year 2004 and each succeeding fiscal year.”
Effective Date of 1999 Amendments

Amendment by section 103(a)(1)–(3), (4)(B) of Pub. L. 106–57 applicable with respect to the first session of the One Hundred Sixth Congress and each succeeding session of Congress, see section 103(c) of Pub. L. 106–57, set out as a note under section 4313 of this title.

Pub. L. 106–19, § 1(b), Apr. 8, 1999, 113 Stat. 29, provided that:

“The amendment made by subsection (a) [amending this section] shall apply with respect to January 1999 and each succeeding month.”