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Public Statements

Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 2010

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. KINGSTON. Madam Speaker, what this motion to recommit does is it moves to strike the congressional bicycle program.

When I came to Congress 17 years ago, we actually had a congressional ice program. I want you to imagine, every day 435 offices would get a bucket of ice delivered to them, even though we had ice machines in our refrigerator. It was a long-standing tradition and we couldn't get rid of it. It cost $375,000 a year. Finally we got rid of it.

Not to be outdone, it seems this Congress has started a bicycle program so our staff could have an opportunity to ride a beautiful bike like this. I want to tell you, these are beautiful bikes, not just because they are a pleasant blue color. But I am a bike rider. I ride a bike to work. I take this carbon footprint stuff seriously. I also don't like to pay $2.70 a gallon. So I ride my bike, but I pay for mine with my own money.

Now, these bikes, you don't have to pay for them. You just have to sign up. The problem is, last year $200,000, this year--the chairman would like me to show my colors here. I am a bike rider, and I take it seriously. Mr. Jackson and Mr. Lewis, we would love to have you in our caucus.

To get 30 bikes, we have spent $200,000. But only a small number of people have signed up for this, and last year they were only used 186 times. That calculates to $330 a ride.

Now, it is important to give staff employees benefits, and that is why this bill increases the salary allowance. We give them Metro cards. They have a health care plan and a fitness center. They have Federal holidays. They have nurses on the premises. They have a Thrift Savings Plan. There are a lot of good things we do and should continue doing for employees. But the bike program is so silly.

Why is it silly? It is not available, except for on weekdays from 8 to 5. So when I have an employee come to work, I expect them to be working, not riding bikes provided for by hard-working taxpayers.

These bikes are deluxe bikes. You can't quite see them. There is a nice seat, a very nice cushiony seat. They have lights. They have speedometers. I can tell you these bikes don't have any speed to them at all. I ride a road bike. I know. I could take one of these easily. But they have a speedometer, in case they do get up to five miles per hour. Nice thick tires. And you can't quite see them, but they have a mud flap. Now, you know you can't be serious with a bike unless you have a mud flap on it.

I want people to be riding bicycles, but I don't think it is fair for taxpayers in this economy to be spending $300,000 for a silly congressional bike program that is not used.

And, by the way, how bad is it? I would challenge you to do this: Check the Web page out and ask them how to get a bike, and it can't even accurately tell you where to go. It tells you to go to the Fitness Center. You call the Fitness Center, and they say, no, you have to go to First Call. You call First Call and you wait in line. That is where you get your sandwiches and meeting rooms and everything else. You have to be in line for that.

I went over, by the way, to see those bikes. Lots of dust is on them. They are sitting all by themselves in the corner of the parking lot, Ride me, ride me, please, somebody. No, you don't get that opportunity, because you can't sign up for it.

But, again, I want my employees to be working between 8 and 5, and on the weekend, if they want to ride a bike, they ought to pay for it with their own money. Again, if this program was practical, it would be available to them on the weekends, but it is not.

It is a silly program and it revisits the days of the congressional ice-delivery program. Like the congressional ice-delivery program, it was a good idea, a good intention gone bad.

We need to strike this, put it to rest and say, you know what? We tried it. Let's don't be stupid and continue trying it. Let's accept this language and move the bill and get rid of the congressional bike program.

I would like all of you folks to sign up for a bike program, but not this one. Bring your own bike at your own expense.

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