WASHINGTON – House Republicans decided this week to drop a proposal that federal employees pay higher rates for work place parking after finding other ways to help cut the budget deficit, said Republican Rep. Constance A. Morella.
A proposal that government workers pay the market rate for parking was budgeted by Republicans to raise about $800 million over seven years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Improving collection of outstanding debt – such as student and small business loans – was suggested as one alternative. It is expected to yield about $130 million over seven years, said Rick May, staff director of the House Budget Committee.
Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Mitchellville, said the proposal was abandoned Wednesday by House leaders for a more political reason.
“Republicans thought it would be more trouble than it’s worth. We raised a lot of sand on this,” he said.
He added the proposal was unpopular with Congress because the bill exempted members and their staffs, which would not have been viewed kindly by the public.
The amendment was dropped Wednesday night by the House Rules Committee during consideration of a package of federal funding bills.
Hoyer and other Democrats had calculated that federal employees would have had to pay $1,800 a month to park, under the proposal. They arrived at that amount by informally surveying area parking lots and garages.
Some federal workers now park for free. Others have government-subsidized parking.
About 46,000 parking spaces in the District, suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia are owned by the federal government, said Jack Babcock, a spokesman at the General Services Administration.
Babcock said he does not know how many employees would have been affected by the measure. But because parking spaces are reserved for carpools, among other users, far more than 46,000 employees would be affected.
A Republican member of the House Rules Committee, which drafted the rule dropping the proposal from the budget bill, said the decision was made in “the 13th hour” of committee hearings Wednesday night. “The decision was made at the leadership level,” said Rep. Porter J. Goss of Florida. No similar proposal was presented in Senate budget bills, so the issue is unlikely to resurface, Hoyer said. -30-