Today marks the first day for the 113th Congress. In addition to holding leadership elections, Members of the new Congress this evening voted to approve rules which, among other things, allow House Members to fly on corporate jets. Previously, House Members were generally barred by House gift rules from accepting free flights on private aircraft and by other provisions of the House rules from using personal or official funds to pay for such flights unless the Member or a family member owned or leased the plane. Under the new rules, Members (like their Senate counterparts) will be able to fly on these jets if they use personal or official funds to pay the pro rata share of the usual charter rate for a comparable plane. The rules also authorize the chair and ranking minority member of the House Ethics Committees to grant waivers to this private aircraft rule.
Don’t expect to see a sudden drop-off in sightings of House Members at Reagan National Airport, however. The high cost of corporate jet flights makes it impractical for the vast majority of House Members to ditch their usual commercial flights home. In addition, Federal Election Commission rules still generally prohibit House candidates from flying on private aircraft for campaign-related purposes.