Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley this week co-sponsored legislation that would immediately stop the federal government from spending taxpayer dollars at properties owned by the president, vice president and Cabinet officials.
The Heightened Oversight of Travel, Eating, and Lodging (HOTEL) Act introduced by U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) aims to prevent potential conflicts of interest and abuse of taxpayer dollars by making clear that all three branches of government may not approve any spending, including travel expenditures, at businesses owned or controlled by the president and other high-ranking government officials.
“Donald Trump seems to believe the system of checks and balances somehow means he can use his resort properties to collect checks from American taxpayers that act only to fatten his bank balances,” Wyden said. “This legislation restores the true system of checks and balances to make sure there’s proper oversight of travel spending decisions by Trump and his subordinates.”
“The American people deserve a President whose primary goal is to serve the public interest, not to use his position to put taxpayers’ money in his pockets,” said Merkley. “It’s time for Congress to stand up against this administration’s blatant abuse of power, by making sure not another cent of taxpayer money is spent at a Trump hotel or resort.”
The HOTEL Act makes it clear that taxpayer funds may not be spent at any lodging properties owned by the president, vice president, or the head of an executive branch agency, including for lodging or dining services and room rentals. The legislation exempts spending that falls under the protective missions of the United States Secret Service and other agencies, but provides heightened oversight and transparency of these expenses by requiring any such spending to be reported to ethics officials and Congress.
In addition to Wyden and Merkley, Peters’ HOTEL Act is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Patty Murray (D-WA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
A web version of this release is here.