United States Code

USC most recently checked for updates: Jul 04, 2022

§ 503.
Official mail of persons entitled to use congressional frank
(a)
Congressional committee regulations for expenditure of appropriations for official mail
Except 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 functions
The 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 mail
Expenses 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 prohibited
No 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” defined
As 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.

(Pub. L. 101–520, title III, § 311, Nov. 5, 1990, 104 Stat. 2278; Pub. L. 102–229, title II, § 211, Dec. 12, 1991, 105 Stat. 1718; Pub. L. 104–186, title II, § 203(22), Aug. 20, 1996, 110 Stat. 1728; Pub. L. 105–275, title I, § 104, Oct. 21, 1998, 112 Stat. 2439; Pub. L. 106–19, § 1(a), Apr. 8, 1999, 113 Stat. 29; Pub. L. 106–57, title I, §§ 102, 103(a)(1)–(3), (4)(B), Sept. 29, 1999, 113 Stat. 415; Pub. L. 107–68, title I, § 110, Nov. 12, 2001, 115 Stat. 569; Pub. L. 108–83, title I, § 105(a), Sept. 30, 2003, 117 Stat. 1018; Pub. L. 116–260, div. I, title I, § 116(b)(2)(B), (c)(2), Dec. 27, 2020, 134 Stat. 1637, 1639.)
cite as: 2 USC 503