Bipartisan House Bill would Prohibit Congress from Flying First Class at Taxpayers’ Expense

Tuesday, May 20, 2014
This sort of in-flight luxury could soon be history for members of Congress (AP photo)

With the government mired in debt, and American soldiers stuck flying coach, some members of Congress have decided their colleagues shouldn’t be able to fly first class at taxpayer expense.

 

Two Republicans (Representatives Paul Gosar of Arizona and Walter Jones of North Carolina) and two Democrats (Representatives Raul Ruiz of California and John Barrow of Georgia) have introduced legislation that would bar senators and House members from flying first class unless they pay for it themselves.

 

The change would put lawmakers in the same position as employees working for the executive branch who travel on government business. The only exceptions for flying first class apply to those with disabilities or medical problems.

 

Same goes for military personnel who can’t fly first class if the travel is part of their active duty. Thus, the name for H.R. 4632: “If Our Military Has to Fly Coach Then so Should Congress Act of 2014.”

 

“At a time of massive deficits and with a national debt in excess of $17 trillion, members of Congress should not be using taxpayers’ hard-earned money to buy luxury airline seats,” Gosar said in a joint statement with the other lawmakers.

Barrow said his colleagues “should set a good example” by “not spending other people’s money on first-class travel.”

 

But as Glenn Kessler pointed out in The Washington Post, the prohibition on Congressmen flying in the front of the plane wouldn’t actually save any money. Each member of Congress gets a travel allowance based on the distance from Washington to their districts. That allowance isn’t being cut, so the proposal is more symbolic than anything else.

-Noel Brinkerhoff

 

To Learn More:

Bill Would Prohibit Lawmakers from Flying First Class on Taxpayers’ Dime (by Josh Hicks, Washington Post)

High-Flying Language On Congressional Travel Demands A Closer Look (by Glenn Kessler, Washington Post)

H.R.4632 - If Our Military Has to Fly Coach Then so Should Congress Act of 2014 (Congress.gov)

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