Bipartisan bill would force members of Congress to fly coach with the rabble

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(Hans Neleman via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A newly proposed law would require members of Congress and their staffs to fly coach whenever they’re flying on the taxpayers’ dime.

From the Washington Times:

H.R. 4632, known as the “If Our Military Has to Fly Coach Then So Should Congress Act,” sets the same limits on congressional trips that govern most other government travel: Members and their staff cannot use taxpayer funds to buy first-class tickets unless they need to accommodate a disability or other medical need.

The bill is something of a rarity because it’s co-sponsored by two Republican lawmakers – Reps. Walter Jones and Paul Gosar – and two Democrats – Reps. John Barrow and Raul Ruiz.

According to an analysis by an Arizona news station, flying roundtrip coach from Phoenix to D.C. is less than half of the cost of first-class travel. It’s reasonable to assume the same cost savings would be true for most round trips.

And considering that lawmakers make frequent trips from their district to the nation’s capital, cutting those travel costs in half could generate some decent savings for taxpayers (which Congress could then waste in more imaginative ways).

Rep. Gosar – one of the bill’s co-sponsors – explained it this way: “A little here, a little there and all the sudden you’ve got a billion dollars. You add a billion here and a billion there, and you got tens of billions of dollars.”

Tackling the nation’s $17 trillion debt by cutting air fare expenses is like trying to pay the mortgage by picking up pop cans along the highway. But as they say, every little bit helps, which is why most Americans would probably support H.R. 4632 – and why this bill will almost certainly die in committee.

If the bill does pass, however, expect a sharp increase in the number of Congress members who are suddenly diagnosed with medical conditions severe enough to require travel in the roomy comfort of first class – but not serious enough to interfere with their golf swing.

Authored by Ben Velderman