Dem senator introduces bill to publicize Trump officials' flying

Dem senator introduces bill to publicize Trump officials' flying
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A Democratic senator introduced legislation on Friday that would mandate Trump administration officials share their travel schedule and flight class publicly in an effort to curb improper government spending.

The Federal Travel Transparency Act introduced by Sen. Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy Duckworth Ilhan Omar: GOP response to calls for police reform 'was vicious' Democrat expresses concern about 'delay' of cancer-linked chemical regulation Duckworth releases hold on military confirmations, citing proof Vindman earned promotion MORE (D-Ill.) seeks to prevent federal officials from misusing taxpayer dollars. The bill specifically nods to the heads of the Interior Department, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Treasury Department, all of whom have been criticized for extravagant travel on chartered planes or in first class.

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"Every public servant has a responsibility to be a good steward of public dollars but it’s clear that Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpProgressive group launches M pro-Biden ad buy targeting young voters Ilhan Omar: GOP response to calls for police reform 'was vicious' White House considers sweeping travel ban on members, families of the Chinese Communist Party: report MORE and his Cabinet secretaries do not always see it that way,” Duckworth said in a statement. “When Trump Administration officials spend thousands of taxpayer dollars to charter a private or military plane or purchase a first-class ticket, they should — at the very least — be required to tell the American people who are bankrolling their luxurious travel why it is necessary."

Specifically, the bill would require the government to disclose on a public website the official air travel activities of agency leaders every few months. The disclosures would include trip duration, destinations and the number of employees on the trip as well as justification for the travel and the associated costs.

Duckworth argued that the new process established under the bill would cut back on Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests made for travel summaries and in turn save government resources and time.

A number of government agencies including the EPA and the Interior Department have blamed a backlog in FOIA requests for slow response times, often coming months later than legally required.

A government watchdog is investigating Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeTrump flails as audience dwindles and ratings plummet OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senior Interior official contacted former employer, violating ethics pledge: watchdog | Ag secretary orders environmental rollbacks for Forest Service | Senate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Senior Interior official contacted former employer, violating ethics pledge: watchdog MORE for using taxpayer-funded charter and military planes to travel between work events and personal and political appearances, including a trip he took to Las Vegas over the summer to talk to a professional hockey team. The department is also under fire for signing off on a $139,000 project to update doors in Zinke's office.

EPA administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittEPA ordered to reconsider New York efforts to tame downwind pollution OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA declines to tighten smog standards amid pressure from green groups | Democrats split on Trump plan to use development funds for nuclear projects| Russian mining giant reports another fuel spill in Arctic EPA declines to tighten smog standards amid pressure from green groups MORE is under fire this week for spending $105,000 on first-class flights in his first year in Washington, which does not include the cost of first-class travel for his security team. A government watchdog also previously filed an ethics complaint against him for authorizing the EPA to spend what is now estimated to be $43,000 to build a soundproof booth in his office. 

EPA declined to give a comment but pointed to interview's Pruitt previously did with CBS and Portland-based radio host Lars Larson, where the administrator said his next flight would be on coach, and compared his international travel total to that of his predecessors in the Obama administration.

Interior did not respond to a request for comment.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, led by Rep. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyMore than two dozen former prosecutors, judges, active trial lawyers support DOJ decision to dismiss Michael Flynn case Sunday shows preview: As states loosen social distancing restrictions, lawmakers address dwindling state budgets John Ratcliffe is the right choice for director of national intelligence — and for America MORE (R-S.C.), has requested information from both departments regarding Zinke's and Pruitt's spending. Gowdy sent his request to Zinke Friday. EPA says it has responded to Gowdy's request.

 

Duckworth argued that her bill would help bring transparency to Cabinet officials' spending practices.

"By shining a light on the travel practices of Trump Cabinet officials, this bill would protect taxpayers from the Trump Administration’s wasteful spending on needless luxury travel," she said.