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updated: 6/18/2014 6:05 PM

Duckworth to Congress: Buy stamps

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U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth wants members of Congress to lose their ability to send mass mailings from their offices with just a signature -- no stamp needed.

Federal lawmakers have to pay for postage in the end, leaving taxpayers on the hook for the mailings. But the Hoffman Estates Democrat said ending the process known as franking and making them pay up front would be more transparent.

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"Removing the franking privilege for Congress is a small step we can take to show the American people we are here to work for them," said Duckworth, who said she does use franked mail.

Duckworth has sponsored the plan with Republican U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall of Georgia.

A report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service says the use of franking is down overall as the idea has been criticized by people who see the perk as wasteful.

"In particular, mass mailings have come under increased scrutiny as critics argue that the vast majority of franked mail is unsolicited and, in effect, publicly funded campaign literature," the report says.

In 2013, for example, mailings from members of Congress cost $15.2 million.

Duckworth faces Republican Larry Kaifesh of Carpentersville in the November election.

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