Menendez Joins Colleagues in Legislation to End Use of Taxpayer Dollars at Trump Properties

Menendez Joins Colleagues in Legislation to End Use of Taxpayer Dollars at Trump Properties


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, joined 34 of his colleagues this week to introduce the Heightened Oversight of Travel, Eating, and Lodging (HOTEL) Act, which would immediately prevent the federal government from spending taxpayer dollars at properties owned by the President, Vice President and Cabinet officials. 

President Trump owns several properties in New Jersey, including Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster where he spends significant time each year.

“Continuing reports that government officials have been staying at Trump properties are deeply alarming and raise serious concerns that Donald Trump is profiting off of the presidency,” said Sen. Menendez. “The American people expect their hard-earned taxpayer dollars will be used in supporting health care, quality education, safe roads and rails, and a strong national defense—not line the pockets of the president or any government official.  In case this wasn’t understood before, our bill makes it crystal clear that enriching yourself on the public’s dime is illegal.” 

Congress is currently looking into several incidents in which government employees, including Cabinet officials, have stayed at properties owned by President Trump at taxpayer expense. Vice President Mike Pence’s recent stay at Trump International Golf Links & Hotel in Doonbeg, Ireland, and Attorney General William Barr’s planned holiday party at Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., have come under scrutiny.  Since 2017, the Defense Department reportedly spent at least $184,000 on stays at Trump Turnberry resort in Scotland for U.S. Air Force crews during refueling stopovers. 

The HOTEL Act aims to prevent potential conflicts of interest and abuse of taxpayer dollars. It makes clear that all three branches of government may not approve any spending, including travel expenditures, at businesses owned or controlled 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.

“The Constitution's Take Care Clause requires the president to serve the public interest, not his personal interests. President Trump steering taxpayer dollars towards his own businesses is corruption, plain and simple, and it is the type of abuse of power that erodes trust in our democracy,” said Justin Vail, Policy Advocate at Protect Democracy. “The HOTEL Act is an important step towards ensuring that president is not permitted to use the office to enrich himself.”

“Foreign diplomats, lobbyists and administration officials who are eager to curry favor with the President have spent millions of dollars at Trump-owned properties, sometimes without even using all the rooms they booked,” said Aaron Scherb, Director of Legislative Affairs at the non-partisan government watchdog Common Cause. “Because President Trump has refused to divest from his businesses, unlike every modern President before him has, he’s reaping the profits, often at taxpayers’ expense.”

The HOTEL Act is cosponsored by U.S. Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).