You Paid For It: Congressional Cars
Updated: Tuesday, July 22 2014, 12:22 AM EDT
ALBANY -- It's one more congressional perk -- a free car paid for by you and me.
Every member of the House is allowed to lease a vehicle on the taxpayers dime, but only 63 members take advantage of that -- an effort to end the practice failed when the measure came up for a vote in the House earlier this year.
The leases range from the $271 being spent by Congressman Xavier Becerra of California, to the $1300 rung up by Representative Randy Neugebauer of Texas on two cars -- 985 for one 333 for the other. The average lease -- $610.23 a month -- total lease payments for the year -- $461,330.40.
In our area, Congressman Bill Owens, who is retiring at the end of the year -- leases a 2013 Chevy Equinox for $465 a month.
Congressman Peter Welch of Vermont leases an electric car -- it costs you $425 a month.
Both Owens and Welch say they need the cars to travel their districts. Welch says he's found leasing is cheaper than being reimbursed for mileage.
There are those with no lease and no reimbursement
Congressman Paul Tonko does not lease a vehicle and does not put in for mileage reimbursement -- he travels roughly 50,000 miles a year on the job in his own car -- his office says -- "Congressman Tonko puts roughly 50,000 work-related miles a year on his car in travel through Capital Region communities. He believes this is part of his commitment to public service and that he should not bill the taxpayer for mileage, car payments, maintenance, or tolls."
Rep. Chris Gibson also does not lease a vehicle -- he tells us he believes the limited resources he has are better utilized elsewhere. And like Tonko, he too does not put in for mileage reimbursement.