Through these doors pass some of the most creative bookkeepers in the world. Some House committees are resorting to ''creative accounting'' to keep sufficient staff on hand, while still meeting mandatory spending ceilings. For the last two years, Republicans have kept the lid on House committee spending. Enter the paper shuffle. Highly paid aides are shifted from a salary category subject to annual scrutiny to one that provides automatic funding for 30 staff members. Employees on the low end of the scale - such as clerks and secretaries -- are put on the books that get audited annually.

The result: committee payrolls are going up, but the cost is less obvious.

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