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Merkley bill aims to keep federal fliers out of first class


Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and John Kennedy (R-LA) announced Wednesday the introduction of the Fly Smart Act, new bipartisan legislation to prevent taxpayer dollars from being wasted on first-class flights.

The legislation would ban federal government employees — including Cabinet secretaries and other high-ranking public servants — from using taxpayer dollars to purchase first- or business-class airline tickets, except under exceptional circumstances.

“Public servants should use their positions to serve the public, not live the high life on the public dime,” Merkley said. “After news story after news story about the abuse of the current system, it’s clear that tougher rules are ready for takeoff.”

“Between 2012 and 2014, government employees spent an extra $1 million in taxpayer dollars to fly first class. That is an unacceptable waste of taxpayer money. Government workers shouldn’t travel like the champagne and caviar crowd on the taxpayers’ dime,” Kennedy said. “We need to make it clear that government workers should not fly first class on the taxpayers’ dime.”

The Fly Smart Act requires all federal government employees to fly coach, domestically and internationally, except under exceptional circumstances–for instance, if no alternative flight options can be found. All exceptions must be approved by a waiver that is publicly filed no later than 90 days following the travel, and blanket waivers will not be permitted.

A section-by-section summary of the Fly Smart Act can be found here.

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