An amendment on a bill that would have prohibited members of Congress from using taxpayer money to buy first class seating on airplanes has been tabled.
The House of Representatives’ Rules Committee on Monday declined to bring the amendment (which was to be attached to a bill appropriating money to Congressional operations) to the House floor. The amendment was proposed by two Republicans (Rep. Rod Blum of Iowa and Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona) and a Democrat (Rep. Gwen Graham of Florida).
According to a statement posted on his website, Rep. Blum said House members don’t need “perks like first class travel to do our job.” Below is the full statement:
“This is not a partisan issue: members of the House of Representatives don’t need special taxpayer funded perks like first class travel to do our job. By adopting this amendment, the House can take a concrete step towards showing the American people that we are serious about good stewardship of taxpayer money — while holding ourselves accountable at a time when approval ratings for Congress remain near all time lows.”
Rep. Gosar also made his feelings known with the following tweet:
It turns out this isn’t the first time the three representatives have tried to curb the use of taxpayer money to buy first class seats on airplanes.
According to The Hill, Rep. Gosar and Democratic representative Raul Ruiz of California proposed a bill earlier this month called the COACH (Coach-Only Airfare for Capitol Hill) Act. As the carefully-crafted name implies, the bill would have prevented lawmakers and their staffs from using money from taxpayers to secure first class seats on flights. However, it would have allowed for those lawmakers and staffers with to use public funds for such seats in the event of medical necessity. Reps. Gosar and Ruiz also were behind a bill proposed in 2014 titled “If Our Military Has to Fly Coach Then So Should Congress Act.”
Rep. Graham also introduced a similar bill a little earlier this year. This particular piece of legislation would have not only banned lawmakers from using public money for first class seats on flights, but also would have ended the use of those same funds for personal long-term car leases. That particular bill was co-sponsored by Rep. Blum.
According to The Hill, the amendment was not put up to a vote Monday because some on the Rule Committee doubted whether the abuse of such perks is a widespread issue.
“I don’t think members are going around buying first-class tickets,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Massachusetts). “I just don’t think it’s a problem.”