Representative Rodney Davis (R-IL) was confronted by a fellow airplane passenger who questioned his decision to fly first class from Chicago to Washington, D.C. as the government shutdown—now in its 33rd day—rages on.
“Congressman, do you think it’s appropriate to fly first class while 57 TSA agents aren’t being paid?” the passenger, who has not been identified, asks in the video.
Davis did not answer.
“Taking that as a yes," the passenger says. “Taxpayers paid for this flight? Fair enough."
Davis’s spokesperson, Ashley Phelps, told The Huffington Post that Davis did not use his taxpayer-provided budget to purchase a first-class ticket and had never done so.
“There was no additional cost to taxpayers,” she told the outlet in an email. Davis did not respond to requests for comment.
"Members of Congress can have the government pay for regular flights to and from their home jurisdictions, as maintaining constituency contact is part of their job," The Post's Akbar Shahid Ahmed notes. "Unlike the paychecks of TSA workers, as well as those of hundreds of thousands of other federal government workers affected by the shutdown, those paid flights do not go away during a government shutdown."
The sight of a Congressman enjoying a first class flight as federal workers are forced to go without their paychecks, however, did not go over well.
Davis has gone on record supporting President Donald Trump's attempts to "compromise" and end the shutdown, which began after the president refused to sign a stopgap funding bill which would have averted a shutdown because he disagreed with Congress's decision not to provide the funding he'd requested for his proposed border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
"Let's stop playing politics, find a compromise, & end this govt shutdown," he wrote in part.
The Senate will take two key votes tomorrow on competing proposals aimed at ending the shutdown. The proposal backed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) includes a provision to fund the border wall and reopen shuttered parts of the government. The Democratic proposal would reopen the government without providing new funding for the wall. Both proposals are expected to fail because both need 60 votes to advance.
The president has proposed that Democrats agree to $5.7 billion for the wall in exchange for a three-year extension of protections for those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and a three-year extension for immigrants with Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
Democrats have rejected this proposal. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a statement called it a “non-starter” because it does not “include the permanent solution for the Dreamers and TPS recipients that our country needs and supports.”
“Similar inadequate offers from the Administration were already rejected by Democrats. The BRIDGE Act does not fully protect Dreamers and is not a permanent solution,” a senior House Democratic aide told Newsweek. “This is not a compromise as it includes the same wasteful, ineffective $5.7 billion wall demand that shut down the government in the first place.”
The president has provided no indication that the shutdown will end soon. Earlier this morning, he doubled down on his call for the wall's construction.
Despite Trump's emphasis, the general consensus is that the wall is as impractical as it is unpopular. A New York Timesanalysis found that "The wall has consistently been unpopular, with voters opposed by around a 20-point margin over months of national surveys. That makes it even less popular than the president himself."