ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–It’s not illegal — but in this age of dire debt, should members of Congress be driving around in taxpayer-funded rental cars?
“I need an automobile to get around my district,” said Congressman William “Lacy” Clay, arriving at a groundbreaking in Pagedale in a Ford Hybrid SUV paid for by taxpayers. Clay confirmed he’s paying $800 a month out of his congressional office budget for rental cars to get around the district.
“According to the rules of the House, I am allowed to lease a car out of my office budget and I do that for my in-district matters,” Clay said.
The Senate has outlawed the use of taxpayer dollars for personal cars. But House members, in just the first three months of this year, spent half-a-million dollars on rental cars. Clay was asked if the House should follow the Senate’s lead and ban the practice.
“Well, if the rules are changed, then I will follow the rules like I’ve done for 28 years,” Clay said, “I don’t have a problem following the rules.”
Clay pointed out that he sees “numerous city officials” driving around in taxpayer-funded cars, and he questioned whether members of Congress should be held to a different standard. He also argued that Congressmen who don’t drive taxpayer-funded rental cars may be costing taxpayers more indirectly.
“What you need to realize is that for those members of Congress who use their personal cars, then they are able to deduct those expenses off their taxes. So, it may cost the taxpayer more through the deductions,” Clay said.
Clay called himself a “good steward of the taxpayer’s dollar,” and called attention to the recent cuts in budgets for members of Congress. Like other members, Clay’s office has had to do with about 11 percent less, or about $150,000 less, in the past two years.
To hear the interview with Congressman Clay, click here:
Fox 5 Television News in Washington D.C. covered the Congressional rental car story and has more on what different members are paying to get around.