The U.S. House of Representatives agreed to pay $96,000 of taxpayer money last year to provide its staff premium access to a meditation app, citing the trauma of the Jan. 6, 2021 assault on the U.S. Capitol.
Documents obtained exclusively by Fox News Digital indicate the House Center for Well Being inked a year-long contract with Calm, a San Francisco-based health software company, last September. The agreement ensured House staffers would receive a free subscription to Calm’s meditation, sleep and relaxation app.
The contract was made possible, in part, by the $1.9 billion emergency spending package Congress passed last year to bolster security in response to the Jan. 6, 2021 assault on the U.S. Capitol. Calm’s partnership with the House was spearheaded by the House Appropriations subcommittee on the legislative branch.
Subcommittee chairman Tim Ryan, an Ohio Democrat and well-known devotee of yoga and meditation, penned a letter last December with his GOP counterpart on the panel announcing the partnership. At the time, the duo wrote the investment was part of a larger effort to address the trauma inflicted on staff by the events of Jan. 6.
“As we head into 2022 and prepare to mark the first anniversary of the events of January 6, 2021, be assured that these offices are here to support you with their comprehensive mental and emotional support resources and to help develop and improve your resilience, growth, productivity, and overall well-being,” the letter read.
Congressman Ryan’s office did not return Fox News Digital’s requests for comment.
The House contract with Calm stipulates the deal was in effect starting October 1, 2021. It limits the initial number of subscribers to 4,000 individuals per month.
Under the terms of the agreement, the House agreed to pay Calm $2 per month per subscriber — a total of $96,000 over the span of 12 months. The market rate for average Americans to subscribe to Calm’s app is $14.99 a month or a one-time annual fee of $69.99.
Calm did not respond to questions about whether the rate offered to Congress was the same as that offered to other companies as part of its corporate package.
The company offers its subscribers a bevy of meditation and relaxation exercises. The company claims its goal is to advance self-improvement by enhancing sleep quality, curtailing anxiety, and boosting focus.
As such, Calm curates exclusive videos and music, including nature scenes and sounds. It also offers audio programs on “mindfulness” and sleep stories to lull subscribers into a deep and undisturbed slumber.
The House Wellness Center and the Office of Employee Assistance are dedicated to addressing the physical, mental, and emotional health of congressional staff. The House Administration Committee oversees both agencies.
Sources say that the contract did not meet the $350,000 threshold at which it would have required the approval of House Administration Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif. They note, however, that the House Wellness Center has to notify the committee of any expenditure over $3,500.
Republicans say such expenditures show how out of touch Congress has become under Democratic control.
“I don’t care if it’s a Republican or Democrat, anyone who wastes your hard-earned money in such a foolish manner should be fired, and that’s just what we are going to do In November,” said Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo. “Inflation is out of control. Congress needs to end reckless spending, end frivolous perks, and end Nancy Pelosi’s time as speaker.”
Access to the meditation app is only one of the lucrative perks that staffers enjoy under the Democratic-controlled House. The House Wellness Center has also entered into agreements to provide staffers with access to apps that help with dieting, financial stability, and healthcare planning.
A similar partnership with Peloton, which would have given staff free subscriptions and discounts on the company’s exercise bikes, was scrapped in May amid public criticism.