Any American can be elected to Congress, according to the national canon, but not everyone can easily afford to live in Washington.

The recent controversy over Sen. Norm Coleman's living arrangements in the nation's capital -- downsizing from a luxury apartment to renting a cramped and inexpensive garden-level bedroom from a friend and political ally -- illustrates the problem that keeping two homes can pose for many representatives and senators who aren't independently wealthy.

Most of the 10 members of Minnesota's congressional delegation spend three to four days a week in Washington when Congress is in session, and proximity to the office is key -- even if the cheaper accommodations in the area are typically spartan.

Five members, including Coleman, live on the same block bounded by D Street and North Carolina Avenue S.E., about four blocks southeast of the Capitol, and three live in the same apartment building. Only four own their D.C.-area homes.

But none of the Minnesotans goes to the extremes of Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb.: He stays in his office well past working hours and rests his head on a roll-away bed, said spokeswoman Lisa Ellis. That's an upgrade from his previous sleeping arrangement, she said: a blow-up mattress.

Compare the lifestyle basics for the Minnesota delegation. B5

Sen. Norm Coleman may be alone in renting a basement bedroom, but he's not the only one living in small quarters.


D.C. home: Garden-level bedroom and bath

Where: Capitol Hill neighborhood, Southeast Washington

How long: One year

Rent/own: Rents for $600/month

Landlord: St. Paul businessman Jeff Larson, whose telemarketing firm has received $1.5 million working for Coleman's campaign and political-action committee.

Notes: Before July 2007, Coleman rented an apartment for $1,780 a month at the Lansburgh in downtown Washington.

Minnesota home: House in St. Paul.


D.C. home: 3BR house, with her husband and daughter

Where: Arlington, Va., 5 miles from Capitol

How long: Two months

Rent/own: Rents for $3,200/month, plus utilities

Notes: Before moving in May to provide more room for "visiting grandparents," Klobuchar and her family rented a two-bedroom apartment in northern Virginia for $2,800 a month.

Workweek: Four to five days in D.C., with one family weekend each month in Arlington.

Minnesota home: House in Minneapolis.

REP. TIM WALZ, First District

D.C. home: Studio apartment

Where: Capitol Hill neighborhood, Southeast Washington

How long: Since January.

Rent/own: Rents for $1,400/month

Notes: Last year, Walz shared a two-bedroom apartment with Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Pa.

Minnesota home: House in Mankato.

REP. JOHN KLINE, Second District

D.C. home: 1BR apartment

Where: Stanton Park neighborhood, Northeast Washington, eight blocks from Capitol

Rent/own: Bought about three years ago for $350,000.

Minnesota home: House in Lakeville.

REP. JIM RAMSTAD, Third District

D.C. home: Studio apartment

Where: Capitol Hill neighborhood, Southeast Washington

How long: 17 years

Rent/own: Rents for $1,256/month

Minnesota home: House in Minnetonka.

REP. BETTY McCOLLUM, Fourth District

D.C. home: Efficiency condo

Where: Dupont Circle neighborhood, Northwest Washington, 2.5 miles from Capitol

Rent/own: Bought in 2003 for $180,000

Minnesota home: 2BR condo in St. Paul.

REP. KEITH ELLISON, Fifth District

D.C. home: Studio condo

Where: Capitol Hill neighborhood, Southeast Washington

Rent/own: Rents. The congressman was traveling overseas and unavailable to disclose the cost.

Notes: During his first year in Congress, Ellison rented a Capitol Hill basement apartment from his press secretary for $1,600 a month.

Minnesota home: House in Minneapolis.


D.C. home: Studio apartment, shared with a former staff member

Where: Capitol Hill neighborhood, SE. Washington

How long: Since last year.

Rent/own: Rents, but Bachmann was unavailable to confirm the cost.

Minnesota home: House in Stillwater.

REP. COLLIN PETERSON, Seventh District

D.C. home: 1BR condo

Where: Southwest Washington

Rent/own: Bought about three years ago for $350,000

Notes: Before moving to the condo, Peterson lived in a studio condo about three blocks away that he purchased his first year in Congress in 1991.

Minnesota home: House in Detroit Lakes.

REP. JIM OBERSTAR, Eighth District

D.C. home: Townhouse, 5BR, 3 bath ("For all the kids and grandkids," said press secretary John Schadl)

Where: Potomac, Md., about 13 miles from the Capitol

How long: 14 years

Rent/own: Owned by his second wife, Jean

Workweek: Oberstar, who has been in Congress since 1975, typically is back in Minnesota 60 to 90 days a year, Schadl said.

Minnesota home: House in Chisholm that was built by his father and grandfather. • 612-673-4455 • 202-408-2723