A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a bill Monday that would prevent members of Congress from using taxpayer money to fly first class.
H.R. 632 is known as the “If Our Military Has to Fly Coach Then So Should Congress Act”, according to the Washington Times. It states that members of Congress cannot purchase first-class tickets for themselves or their staff unless the seats are needed to accommodate a disability or medical need.
Fox News reports the bill was introduced by Reps. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.; Raul Ruiz, D-Calif.; John Barrow, D-Ga.; and Walter Jones, R-N.C.
"All it does is prohibit members of Congress from using taxpayer funds to purchase first class airfare," Gosar said in a statement. "At a time of massive deficits and with a national debt in excess of $17 trillion, members of Congress should not be using taxpayers' hard-earned money to buy luxury airline seats.”
Introduction of the bill follows a similar proposal from Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., that would prevent lawmakers from booking first-class tickets using their congressional allowances. Members of Congress are given, on average, about $1 million in allowance each year.
"As members of Congress, we lead by example," Duckworth told The Hill earlier this month. "With so many working families out there trying to make ends meet, it’s important that we not spend tax payer dollars on luxuries like first class air travel. This bill is a small step we can take to show the American people we are here to work for them.”
Duckworth’s bill would not apply to tickets for flights lasting more than five hours. The more recent proposal would.
Rep. Ruiz said H.R. 632 is needed because it is “wrong that members of Congress can purchase luxury airfare with taxpayer money when many families in my district and across the county are struggling to make ends meet.”
Last year The Washington Times found that lawmakers spend between $6 million and $10 million annually to travel overseas. That total did not include flights made between Washington D.C. and their home districts.