Skip to Content
Streetsblog USA home
Streetsblog USA home
Log In

98 House Members — Mostly Dems — Cruising in Taxpayer-Funded Cars

Long before the Obama administration began, congressional Democrats have made
limiting U.S. oil dependence a centerpiece of their agenda. But being a
lawmaker also comes with perks that can compromise one's political
priorities -- and some party leaders have made unflattering headlines
with their willingness to spend taxpayer funds on leasing lavish,
fuel-chugging cars.

amd_rangel_car.jpgRep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee (Photo: NYDN)

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D) recently got rid of his publicly financed Cadillac DeVille, which he likened
to "an airplane" and was big enough to fit an entire desk inside. Rep.
Alcee Hastings (D-FL) got some tough questions back home after his
hybrid Lexus (with an annual lease cost of $24,730) made the Wall
Street Journal.

So when Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) today made good
on her promise to let voters look at how House members spend their
quarterly office allowances, Streetsblog Capitol Hill checked to see
which lawmakers are spending taxpayer funds to lease cars ...
occasionally to travel very walkable distances.

In the third quarter of 2009, the time period covered by today's
records release, 99 House members spent office allowances on autos. The
majority of the group (63 lawmakers) were Democrats, and all
congressional cars were subject to fuel-efficiency limits shepherded into law by Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO).

The list of leasers runs the gamut from progressive transportation policymakers -- Rep. Pete DeFazio (D-OR) Rep. Diana DeGette
(D-CO) paid $765.57 per month for a Toyota -- to stalwart auto industry
backers such as Michigan Reps. Candice Miller (R) and Dave Camp (R).

Several New York City area lawmakers maintain auto leases, including
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D), who appears to have held onto the $998 monthly
Lexus that the Daily News found him sporting in March, and Rep. Anthony Weiner (D), whose $219 monthly lease fell on the lower end of the spectrum.

(ed. note. This post was corrected to
report an erroneous attribution of DeGette's office auto lease to
DeFazio, who does not lease a car. An earlier version of this post also erroneously reported that Representative John Olver leases a car with taxpayer funds. Olver does not lease a car with taxpayer funds. Streetsblog Capitol Hill regrets the

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog USA

Friday’s Headlines Are Still Unsafe

Traffic deaths are declining for those ensconced in thousands of pounds of steel. For the rest of us, not so much.

April 12, 2024

Measure HLA Is Now Officially Law for L.A. City

Check the city maps to find what bus, bike, and walk improvements are coming to streets in your neighborhood.

April 12, 2024

Talking Headways Podcast: Women’s Transportation Seminar

Sara Stickler of WTS International on women’s expertise in transportation and opportunities for mentorship, leadership and education.

April 11, 2024

Don’t Call Thursday’s Headlines a Comeback

Transit ridership isn't all the way back yet, but it continues to climb after collapsing during COVID. Unfortunately, the financial effects of the pandemic on transit agencies still linger.

April 11, 2024

Long-Awaited Report Reveals Widespread Parking Crime by NYPD

The overdue report confirms years of Streetsblog reporting on placard abuse, illegal parking and enforcement failures by the police under two mayors.

April 11, 2024
See all posts