We elect them to serve our best interests and represent us on a national scale, but members of Congress historically have been privy to luxuries that the average person can only dream of. Cases like that of Aaron Schock, a Republican from Illinois who used taxpayer money to fund frivolous extravagances, draw plenty of attention, but now a bipartisan group of lawmakers wants us to turn our attention toward Congressional air travel.
Representatives Paul Gosar, a Republican from Arizona, and Raul Ruiz, a Democrat from California, plan to roll out the Coach-Only Airfare for Capital Hill Act, aptly abbreviated as COACH, in an attempt to curb what they describe as an “especially wasteful” practice. “Members of Congress are public servants of the people and should not be considered a privileged status,” the pair released in a statement.
If COACH were to pass into law, both lawmakers and staffers that could previously fly first-class with taxpayer dollars would instead have to shell out their own cash. However, lawmakers with disabilities or related special needs would still be able to fund their first-class travel at the taxpayer’s expense.
Gosar and Ruiz point to a growing federal deficit as a sign that Congress should be slashing expenses wherever possible. The new law would place an additional limitation on the usage of the Member Representational Allowance, which is the name of the fund that Congresspeople draw from to pay for administrative and personnel costs.
Along with Gosar and Ruiz, fourteen other lawmakers are set to co-sponsor the bill, four Democrats and ten Republicans. This latest bill is the second attempt of Gosar and Ruiz, along with other lawmakers, to pass a bill limiting first-class air travel for members of Congress. Their first attempt was called the “If Our Military Has to Fly Coach Then So Should Congress Act,” which the pair rolled out the same time last year.