GOP lawmaker confronted by passenger for flying first class amid shutdown

GOP lawmaker confronted by passenger for flying first class amid shutdown
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Rep. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump visits a ventilator plant in a battleground state The Hill to interview Mnuchin today and many other speakers The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga says supporting small business single most important thing we should do now; Teva's Brendan O'Grady says U.S. should stockpile strategic reserve in drugs like Strategic Oil Reserve MORE (R-Ill.) was confronted by a fellow passenger on Tuesday for flying in first class amid the ongoing partial government shutdown, according to video of the encounter released by HuffPost.

In footage of the encounter, Davis could be seen collecting items from his seat when he was confronted by a passenger who asked if he thought it was appropriate to be flying in first class as Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees work without pay.

“Congressman, do you think it’s appropriate to fly first class while 57 [thousand] TSA agents aren’t being paid?” the passenger asked Davis.


“Taking that as a yes,” the passenger said after several moments of silence from the lawmaker.

“Taxpayers paid for this flight? Fair enough,” the passenger added.

Congressional members can have flights to and from their districts covered by the government, as keeping contact with their constituency falls within their role. 

However, a spokeswoman for Davis, Ashley Phelps, confirmed that taxpayers did not foot the bill for his first-class ticket in a statement to The Hill.

Phelps said that Davis’s office did purchase a coach ticket for a flight from Chicago to Washington, D.C., but added that the lawmaker was able to upgrade his seat to first class due to his frequent flyer status at no additional cost.

“Congressman Davis has never purchased a first-class flight using taxpayer dollars and he has voted numerous times to ensure our TSA agents are paid and continues to call on Speaker Pelosi to negotiate with President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says inviting Russia to G7 'a question of common sense' Pentagon chief does not support invoking Insurrection Act Dershowitz: Does President Trump have power to declare martial law? MORE and make a deal to reopen government,” Phelps told The Hill.

The government entered the 33rd day of a partial shutdown on Wednesday.

The closure was triggered on Dec. 22 after Republicans and Democrats failed to reach an agreement on a government spending bill over President Trump's demand for more than $5 billion in border wall funding.

The shutdown has impacted hundreds of thousands of federal workers, including TSA employees, across the country. 

-Updated 1:03 p.m.