Congressional Franking Privilege: Background and Recent Legislation [May 5, 2015] [open pdf - 211KB]
"The congressional franking privilege, which dates from 1775, allows Members of Congress to transmit mail matter under their signature without postage. Congress, through legislative branch appropriations, reimburses the U.S. Postal Service for the franked mail it handles. Use of the frank is regulated by federal law, House and Senate rules, and committee regulations. Reform efforts during the past 30 years have reduced overall franking expenditures in both election and non-election years. Even-numbered-year franking expenditures have been reduced by over 85% from $113.4 million in FY1988 to $16.9 million in FY2014, while odd-numberedyear franking expenditures have been reduced by over 90% from $89.5 million in FY1989 to $7.6 million in FY2013. House mail costs have decreased from a high of $77.9 million in FY1988 to $15.1 million in FY2014. The Senate has dramatically reduced its costs, from $43.6 million in FY1984 to $1.8 million in FY2014."
CRS Report for Congress, RS22771