Congress

Tampons to be stocked in House supply store; allowed for purchase with office funds

The feminine hygiene products will be stocked in the Longworth House Office Building

Tampons and other menstrual products will soon be available in the House office supply store for purchase with office funds. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House lawmakers will soon be able to purchase and provide tampons to staff and constituents on campus with office funds, following an inquiry from three Democratic members pushing for wider access.

In a letter released late Monday night, Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren, chairperson of the House Administration Committee, instructed that menstrual products be stocked in the House office supply store for purchase with Members’ Representational Allowance funds.

“I strongly support and admire my colleagues’ goal and am directing the finance office to approve use of MRA funds for the purchase of menstrual products,” Lofgren wrote.

Her letter responded to a request for clarity on the policy regarding MRA funds and tampons from Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida and Sean Patrick Maloney and Grace Meng of New York.

“I have already taken steps to provide these products in the women’s restroom adjacent to the House floor, and am further instructing the Chief Administrative Officer to make these products widely available, including for purchase at the House office supply store,” Lofgren wrote.

Rep. Rodney Davis, the top Republican on the House Administration panel, also supports stocking pads and tampons in the House office supply store for purchase with MRA funds.

“If a member’s office deems that providing tampons or other similar feminine products to their constituents is a necessary expense for their office, then our committee should permit this as an official expense from the Members’ Representational Allowance,” Davis said in a statement.

The annual office allowances fund a variety of official purposes, including salaries and office supplies, as well as official travel. But the limits imposed by House Administration have sometimes seemed to be subjective.

Last summer Maloney was denied permission to buy tampons for his office using his office account. Later he was granted permission, but the official policy was not made clear.

“Like I said repeatedly last year, saying tampons are superfluous but other hygiene products like hand sanitizer and tissues are totally necessary reinforces the idea that our rules are written by men, for men, and that women are merely second-class citizens on Capitol Hill,” Maloney said in a Monday statement.

It is not yet clear when tampons and pads will be available for purchase at the House office supply store in the Longworth House Office Building. 

“Thanks to Chairperson Lofgren’s leadership, policies on Capitol Hill are finally catching on to the fact that women work here,” said Maloney in a statement Tuesday. “After last year’s chaos, it’s helpful to have this clarity. I thank Zoe Lofgren for being a champion for workplace equality.”

Maloney joined Meng and Wasserman Schultz in commending Lofgren for the announcement. 

“This decision is a tremendous step forward in providing greater access to menstrual hygiene products on Capitol Hill,” said Meng. “It will ensure that House offices are able to provide these necessary items to staff and visitors who require them.”

Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.

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