A trio of lawmakers from the New York City area introduced legislation Wednesday that would punish foreign countries whose diplomats do not pay city parking tickets.
The unusual bill proposed by Reps. Michael Grimm (R), Pete King (R) and Edolphus Towns (D) would require the U.S. government to strip foreign aid and diplomatic license plates from a country when it fails to pay overdue parking fines as of Sept. 15 each year "and reappropriate any of the obligated foreign aid funds for the amount outstanding."
"If you get a ticket in NYC, you have to pay it. No exceptions. New York City’s budget is tight enough as it is, and foreign diplomats do not deserve a free pass at the expense of New York City taxpayers," said the freshman lawmaker.
The lawmakers claim that New York City, which is home to 289 foreign missions and consulates, is short $17.2 million in parking fines thanks to foreign diplomats.
“While we appreciate the important roles diplomats play in society and we welcome them with open arms to our city, fair is fair,” said Towns. "Parking is tough is New York City, and we must all play by the rules.”
Under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, the U.S. can withhold 110 percent of the total unpaid parking fines owed to New York City and the District of Columbia from foreign aid to the countries that owe fines, but the New York lawmakers say that their legislation would help the Big Apple recoup the lost fines.
"This legislation is sorely needed to make sure that those countries which habitually disrespect the laws and good will of the people of New York are held accountable," King said.