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LIFESTYLES OF SOME IN CONGRESS WOULDN'T SUIT RICH AND FAMOUS

There's nothing wrong with the Washington apartment of Rep. Frank McCloskey, D-Ind. - if you don't mind basements.

But it's better than the home of Rep. Richard Armey, R-Texas. He's one of several House members who sleeps on the sofa in his office.The good life in Washington?

It's hardly the picture of glamour many imagine when they think of how members of Congress live. But at least a handful of the 435 members of the House of Representatives have lifestyles that wouldn't suit the rich or the famous.

They leave their families back home and stay in dreary Washington apartments that nevertheless are expensive by standards in their districts.

For some, it's a matter of money.

"I can't afford to bring my family out right now," said Rep. Glenn Poshard, D-Ill. He boasts that for $100 he bought a bed, two chests of drawers, a kitchen table and a garish green sofa from the last resident of his modest $800-a-month Capitol Hill apartment.

Some believe their families are better off at home.

Rep. Joe Barton, D-Texas, moved his family back to Ennis, Texas, after they lived together for a while in Washington. "I personally think families are better off in their normal environment, instead of here in what I think is an artificial environment."

Most are members of Congress' "Tuesday-Thursday Club" anyway, which means they may only spend two nights a week in Washington. They're on a plane for home Thursday evening, returning on Tuesday morning for congressional business - traveling at taxpayers' expense.

"We've figured he only sleeps in his office about 75 nights a year," counting all Congress' breaks, said an Armey aide. "With five kids back home, either in college or getting ready to go, it just doesn't make sense" to get a home in Washington.

Rep. Tom Tauke, R-Iowa, goes at the problem another way. His family lives with him in a Virginia suburb, and he stays in an extra bedroom of a relative's home back in Iowa.

These vagabond-style lives are a House phenomenon, said Steven Schier, a political science professor at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn.

Senators, who don't run for election every two years, generally don't go home as often as House members.

"And there aren't many senators in that kind of financial situation," said Schier, who comes to Washington often in his study of Congress.

"A lot of these House people are career politicians, which means there's no way for them to honestly get rich," Schier said.

McCloskey, for example, mayor of Bloomington until he came to the House in 1982, has no financial holdings worth more than $5,000, other than the house he owns, according to financial disclosure statements he filed recently.

Like most other members of Congress, his salary is $89,500 a year.

"I know it doesn't play well in Indiana and Illinois," Schier said, "but $89,500 is not a lot of money to run two households."