Government Oversight

No more first-class flights for Congress?

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) is leading a charge to stop members of Congress from using taxpayer funds to buy first-class airline tickets as they jet back and forth between their districts and Washington.

On top of their $174,000 salaries, members of Congress are given a “Representational Allowance” that lets them use taxpayer funds to buy plane tickets. But Gosar said that is taxpayer money and that members shouldn’t be using it for first-class seats at a time of record-high national debt.

{mosads}”Members of Congress are servants of the people and should not be considered a privileged class,” Gosar wrote in a letter to the House Appropriations Committee. “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 $17 trillion such expenditures are especially wasteful.”

Gosar said he would fight to include language in the 2015 legislative branch appropriations bill that prevents spending on first-class seats. In his letter to the Appropriations Committee, he noted that members of the military can’t use federal funds to buy first-class seats, which means “this same standard should also apply to Members of Congress.”

Reps. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.) joined Gosar on the letter.

Gosar’s idea is one of five that he’ll push for as the Appropriations Committee starts work on spending bills for 2015. All of them are aimed at ending government waste.

“The practice of good governance requires periodic evaluations of federal programs and expenditures to review and debate their necessity, their efficiency and, sometimes, their constitutionality,” he said. “The taxpayers deserve accountability from their government and oversight on how it spends their money.”

Another of his proposals would prevent the government from spending money on giant “scrims” that seek to cover up building repairs. Gosar noted that a huge picture of the front of the Supreme Court was hung from the court to hide recent restoration work, and said it cost $139,000 to produce that picture.

Gosar is also proposing the elimination of an $8 million roadside survey conducted by uniformed officers, and no bonuses for senior officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), in response to the backlog of veterans disability claims.

His final idea is to limit VA conferences. In 2013, the VA held 60 conferences that cost at least $100,000, for a total of nearly $29 million for the year.

Tags first class flights Congress government oversight Paul Gosar

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