With a Republican controlled Congress that's afraid to contradict the wishes of the Trump administration, outright legislative acts of defiance are often purely symbolic. But they're entertaining, especially in this blue state.
U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu of the Westside is giving his people what they want with his recently introduced SWAMP (Stop Waste And Misuse by the President) Act. If approved, it would require Trump and any cohorts under U.S. Secret Service protection (such as his wife, Melania) to pay for their own travel to properties where the president has a commercial interest.
The bill is a response to Trump's frequent travels to properties, such as Mar-a-Lago in Florida, that he owns. In those cases, taxpayers are footing the bill for Air Force One, security and, yes, hospitality costs. And Trump is technically profiting, according to Lieu.
Trump's seven trips to Mar-a-Lago, a commercial resort with a private residence for the president, have cost taxpayers more than $25 million since January, the lawmaker said. "Every time he travels to a commercial property in which he has a financial interest, he forces the American people to deposit funds directly into his pockets," Lieu said in a statement.
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"Most of us don’t know what it’s like to own or even visit multi-million dollar commercial properties — but every American is paying for them," he said. "Meanwhile, President Trump wants to cut programs like the Interagency Council on Homelessness, which could meet its annual funding requirements if Trump passed on just one Mar-a-Lago trip."
The bill, HR 2414, would require Trump and his White House clan to reimburse the U.S. Department of Treasury for travels to his commercial properties. It would not, however, cover another matter of ethics — the specter of foreign dignitaries possibly currying favor with the administration by paying handsomely to stay at Trump properties during trips to meet the president.
"It is unacceptable for the President to maintain an interest in traveling to properties in which he has a financial stake," according to a fact sheet on the bill from Lieu's office. It states that we've been paying about $3.6 million per trip to Mar-a-Lago, which times seven trips so far is "roughly the annual cost of Meals on Wheels for about 10,000 Americans in need."
"The office of the president should never be used for personal gain or enrichment," Lieu said. "Congress has a strong role to play in protecting the American people from fraud and abuse and this bill is a key part of that effort."