Sunday, October 7, 2007

Multiple Ticketing and the Senate

So much for traveling like the rest of us.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) this week quietly inserted a provision into a Defense Department spending bill that allows senators to continue booking multiple tickets with airlines to get home to their states in the most expeditious way possible.

Rather than wait around for the committees of jurisdiction to handle the matter, Reid and McConnell on their own approved a one-sentence provision, unrelated to the underlying Pentagon funding bill, changing Senate rules to clarify that the multiple-reservation benefits were not actually gifts from the airlines.

"It is not a gift for a commercial airline to allow a member, officer or employee to make multiple reservations on scheduled flights consistent with Senate travel regulations," the Reid-McConnell resolution reads.

"Senators Reid and McConnell thought a formal rules change, not just guidance from the Ethics Committee, was preferable," said Jim Manley, spokesman for Reid. "Under the new law, companies may face criminal penalties if they violate the gift rules, so a rules change eliminates ambiguity. The new rule provides a clear framework for the process that was already under way."

I actually do not have a problem with this. If we want our Senators to be able to work in Washington and have any ability to get back to their home states on a regular basis we have to realize that there are going to be things that they will need to have happen that are not exactly the same as the "average person".

I spent a lot of years as a consultant flying back and forth on a weekly basis and I will tell you that it sucks to have a client decide that they absolutely have to have a meeting 1/2 hour after the flight that you booked is supposed to leave. I cannot even imagine trying to book flights when your schedule is dependent on floor votes.

This isn't about them being able to cut to the front of the line for a vacation. This is about allowing the people that we have chosen to represent our interests to have just a little bit of sanity in what must otherwise be a miserable travel life. In this one case they are not like "the rest of us" so let's not pretend that they should be treated in the same way.

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