Peloton, booze delivery perks for House staff draw GOP ire
New perks and services in the works for House staff — particularly Peloton app memberships and direct-to-office alcohol delivery — are getting pushback from Republicans.
The House’s food services vendor Sodexo, which operates House cafeterias, restaurants and in-house catering, is now offering same-day orders for alcohol online.
A sign noticed by Republicans outside the Food Service Administration in the Rayburn House Office Building on Friday advertised “6 pack & more,” with “drinks on demand at drinks.house.gov.”
The ordering website notes that drinks — beer, wine, liquor, juice, soda and more — can be ordered “for pick up or delivery to your office.” Valid identification is required to buy alcoholic beverages, it notes.
In addition, a draft memo obtained by The Hill that was expected to go out to House staff last week said that the House Center for Well-Being will make Peloton Corporate Wellness benefits available to House staff, including district staff and members of U.S. Capitol Police. The Peloton All-Access and Peloton App membership do not include or require a bike but do include thousands of on-demand classes.
Each of the programs is under the purview of the House’s chief administrative officer, which did not respond to a request for comment. It is not clear why the memo about Peloton memberships has been delayed.
The two offerings prompted outrage from some House Republicans, who blamed Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for misplaced priorities. The House chief administrative officer is nominated by the Speaker, elected by the House and subject to oversight by the House Administration Committee.
“Millions of Americans are experiencing increased financial burden due to inflation, and Pelosi is wasting tax dollars on providing Peloton memberships and a liquor store to House staff,” said Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.).
Pelosi’s office referred The Hill to the House Administration Committee when contacted about the programs. The committee referred The Hill to chief administrative officer.
GOP sources said that each office’s Members’ Representational Allowance (MRA), a taxpayer-funded pot of money that can be used on official expenses like staff salaries, travel and office space, cannot be used to purchase the alcohol. House rules prohibit the MRA from being used on personal expenses or activities that are primarily social in nature.
Republicans, though, argued that the new option to order alcohol amounts to opening a taxpayer-funded liquor store on Capitol Hill because official resources allocated toward Sodexo will support it.
“Americans can’t afford to buy groceries or put gas in their cars, and Nancy Pelosi decides now is a good time to open a Congressional liquor store on Capitol Hill,” tweeted Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.). “Washington Dems couldn’t be more out of touch.”
Details of the cost of the Peloton app were not made available in the draft email provided to The Hill. A GOP source said that the chief administrative officer has not provided those details to Hill offices.
Fox Business reported that the contract cost is $10,000 plus $10 per month for each staff member who signs up. If paid entirely by the House, it could cost more than $100,000 per year, depending on how many people sign up.
Peloton charges $12.99 per month for the app membership and $39 per month for the all-access membership that can be used with a Peloton bike. Peloton did not respond to a request for comment.
The Peloton program is just one of many projects within the House Well-Being Center, GOP sources said. The program also offers staff members the Calm sleep, meditation and relaxation app; a FinFit app to help with financial health and planning; and the Foodsmart app that provides personalized advise based on eating habits.
But the Peloton name, associated with luxury bikes, fed into GOP arguments that the Democratic-run House is catering to elites.
“Instead of getting inflation under control by cutting government spending, the House will spend $100,000 a month on Peloton memberships,” tweeted Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Mich.). “Putting the political elite over the American people once again.”
The House also has a fitness center available to staff that requires them to pay out-of-pocket a membership fee.
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