New York politicians take aim at diplomatic parking tickets

A bipartisan group of New York lawmakers is fed up with foreign diplomats who don’t pay their parking tickets in New York City — so much so that they’re ready to withhold all U.S. foreign aid to offending nations that don’t pay up.

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On Wednesday, New York Reps. Michael Grimm (R), Pete King (R) and Edolphus Towns (D) introduced legislation that would require the secretary of State to withhold annually obligated funds to countries with outstanding parking tickets, and reapportion those funds to pay off the fines.

The legislation would also forbid nations with outstanding tickets from renewing their diplomatic license plates.

New York City is home to nearly 300 foreign missions and consulates, and among them, diplomats have racked up an impressive $17.2 million in parking fines.

According to Grimm’s office, the fines were issued for safety violations.

“There’s no such thing as ‘diplomatic immunity’ from paying parking tickets,” said Grimm. “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.”

The measure closely resembles a bill introduced last year by Grimm’s colleague, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.). The bill, H.R. 4457, stalled in committee.