Bill would prohibit lawmakers from flying in first-class seats

A bipartisan bill would prohibit members of Congress from buying first-class flight seats with taxpayer funds.

The four sponsors of the measure, Reps. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.), John Barrow (D-Ga.) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.), said it would ensure lawmakers don't use taxpayer money to fly first class. They titled the bill the "If Our Military Has to Fly Coach Then so Should Congress Act."

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"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 press release announcing the bill.

The legislation would allow for first-class travel to accommodate disabilities or medical problems. Otherwise, official funds for travel by lawmakers or staffers would be limited to booking coach seats.

"It's not enough to give lip service to cutting wasteful spending — we should set a good example. And not spending other people's money on first class travel is a good place to start," Barrow said in the statement.

Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) introduced a measure two weeks ago that would only limit, rather than completely ban, members using taxpayer money to purchase first-class domestic airfare. 

Duckworth’s legislation would allow purchases of first-class seats if the flight was at least five hours or coach-class accommodations were unavailable in urgent travel circumstances. It would also allow an exception if first-class seats would "result in an overall cost savings by avoiding additional subsistence costs, overtime, or lost productive time while awaiting coach-class accommodations."