From: The Honorable Paul A. Gosar
Sent By: joshua.ronk@mail.house.gov
Date: 2/18/2016

Prohibit Members of Congress from Flying First-Class on the Taxpayer Dime

** THIS IS A PROGRAMMATIC REQUEST**
Members are required to submit the request online.
Deadline to sign on is COB on Friday, March 18.

Dear Colleague,

Efficient travel to and from congressional districts contributes to effective execution of the constitutional and official duties of members of Congress.  As with all federal spending, Member’s Representational Allowance funds are taxpayer dollars.  As such, the use of these funds must be exercised with the utmost efficiency and transparency. A loophole currently exists that allows members of Congress to fly first-class at the expense of the taxpayer.

Please join us in sending a letter to the House Appropriations Committee asking them to close this loophole and prohibit the use of funds in FY 2017 for Members of Congress to fly first-class.

The text of the letter is below. Deadline is COB Friday, March 18th.  Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Jeff Small in Rep. Gosar’s office at jeff.small@mail.house.gov

Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of this request.

Sincerely,
Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S.                       Raul Ruiz                                    Rod Blum
Member of Congress                         Member of Congress                    Member of Congress

Gwen Graham                                  Walter Jones                                Ann Kirkpatrick
Member of Congress                         Member of Congress                    Member of Congress

 

March ___, 2016

 

The Honorable Tom Graves                                          The Honorable Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Chairman                                                                    Ranking Member
Committee on Appropriations                                       Committee on Appropriations
Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch                        Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch
U.S. House of Representatives                                      U.S. House of Representatives
HT-2 The Capitol                                                         1016 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515                                                Washington, DC 20515

 

Dear Chairman Graves and Ranking Member Wasserman Schultz:
As you begin work on the fiscal year (FY) 2017 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill, we urge you to take action to prevent members of Congress from flying first-class at taxpayer expense.  Efficient travel to and from congressional districts contributes to effective execution of the constitutional and official duties of members of Congress.  As with all federal spending, Member’s Representational Allowance funds are taxpayer dollars.  As such, the use of these funds must be exercised with the utmost efficiency and transparency. A loophole currently exists that allows members of Congress to fly first-class at taxpayer expense.

Accordingly, we write to request that the following language be added to the fiscal year (FY) 2017 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill:

PROHIBITING USE OF FUNDS FOR FIRST-CLASS AIR TRAVEL BY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS

            SEC. ____. (a) PROHIBITION.—Except as provided in subsection (b), none of the funds made available in this Act for the official travel expenses of a Member of Congress (including a Delegate or Resident Commissioner to the Congress) may be used may be used for airline accommodations which are not coach-class accommodations.
(b) EXCEPTIONS.—Subsection (a) does not apply—

            (1) in the case of a Member of Congress with a disability; or

                        (2) in the case of an emergency, as determined by the Speaker of the House of Representatives or the Majority Leader of the Senate (as the case may be).
(c) DEFINITIONS.—In this section—

                        (1) the term ‘‘coach-class accommodations’’ means the basic class of accommodation by airlines that is normally the lowest fare offered regardless of airline terminology used, and (as referred to by airlines) may include tourist class or economy class, as well as single class when the airline offers only one class of accommodations to all travelers; and
(2) the term ‘‘Member of Congress’’ means a Senator or a Representative in, or Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, the Congress.

Members of Congress are public servants of the people and shouldn’t be considered a privileged class.  As such, we must be judicious in the travel expenses that are paid for with federal funds.  Luxury airfare accommodations utilizing taxpayer monies would seem inappropriate in any fiscal climate, but at a time of soaring deficits and with a federal debt in excess of $19 trillion, such expenditures are especially wasteful. The requested language allows for reasonable exceptions like accommodating a disability or other substantiated medical need. The requested language seeks to codify language that is in line with requirements for travel by employees in the Executive Branch. If federal restrictions prohibit members of our military from traveling first-class, this same standard should also apply to Members of Congress.    

We thank you for your consideration of this request, and for your leadership in the FY 2017 appropriations process.

Sincerely,