Federal Employees News Digest

No more first class flights for feds under new bill

A bipartisan piece of legislation has been introduced that would ban all federal employees from flying first-class or business-class while traveling for work.

The Fly Smart Act would make all federal executive branch employees fly coach, including cabinet secretaries and other high-ranking public officials, unless under “exceptional circumstances,” for both domestic and international flights.

“Government workers shouldn’t fly first class on the public’s dime,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), who introduced the bill with Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley (D). “Sometimes you have to create common sense through legislation,” he added.

An exceptional circumstance would be if no other flight was available, for example. But 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.

The pair noted media reports of high-ranking officials’ excessive travel expenses, such as former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who racked up more than $124,000 in first-class flights.

Based on such reports, Merkley said, "...it’s clear that Congress needs to act to make sure that not another dollar of taxpayer money is spent on luxury flights."

“This bill will put an end to this frivolous practice and save taxpayer money,” Kennedy added.

View a summary of the bill here.

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