Senate panel advances bill to reimburse fed workers for Uber, Lyft

Senate panel advances bill to reimburse fed workers for Uber, Lyft

A House-passed bill to ensure federal workers can use Uber and Lyft when they travel on official government business is quickly moving through the Senate.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed the legislation by voice vote on Wednesday, sending the measure to the full Senate.

The bill would require the General Services Administration (GSA) to issue regulations clarifying that federal workers should be reimbursed for using innovative transportation services such as Uber and Lyft — or any similar technology that emerges in the future.

A similar bill passed the House last fall but was not cleared by the Senate.

ADVERTISEMENT
Although federal employees are allowed to use ride-hailing services, bill sponsors are concerned that agencies and workers may not be aware of their options because the GSA is not required to issue any comprehensive guidance on the topic.

Proponents argue that ride-hailing services can help save the federal government money by reducing travel costs, but only if Congress works to keep up with the pace of innovation.

The bipartisan measure also would require the GSA to issue a report analyzing the government savings generated from workers using ride-hailing services.

The bill comes as Uber has increasingly raised its profile on Capitol Hill through lobbying and member outreach, even as the company has suffered from a string of controversies in recent months.

Last year, a House panel approved separate legislation designed to shore up federal use of ride-hailing services. That measure would have allowed employees to use their federal transit benefits on alternative options such as Uber, Lyft, Capital Bikeshare and taxis while D.C.’s Metrorail system implements a massive repair project.