- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 18, 2022

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy slammed Democrats on Wednesday for planning to give congressional staff free membership to the popular exercise company Peloton Interactive.

Mr. McCarthy said the proposal signaled the elitist sentiments of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and other members of the Democratic leadership. 

“This congress will go down in history as the out-of-touch Congress,” said Mr. McCarthy, California Republican. “This week as families scramble to find baby formula … Speaker Pelosi decided to give everyone in Congress a Peloton gym membership.”

The House’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) had prepared an email last week advising House staff and U.S. Capitol Police of the new benefit, according to several reports.

House Democratic leaders now say the contract with Peloton was not approved. 

“Upon reviewing the proposal, I rejected it,” said House Administration Committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren, California Democrat.

A Capitol Hill source familiar with the matter told The Washington Times that the Peloton contract was approved as recently as this week but notice of the cancellation was circulated to congressional offices on Wednesday.

It was unclear whether the cancelation will still cost taxpayers fees or penalties. 

The company did not respond to a request for comment.

According to a CAO memo outlining the deal, the contract with Peloton would cost taxpayers an upfront payment of $10,000, with an additional $10 per month to be paid for each staffer that signs up for the program. The contract with Peloton was supposed to become active Wednesday with House members able to sign up immediately.

A Peloton All-Access Membership usually costs $39 per month and a Peloton App Membership costs $12.99 per month.

The number of individuals who would have used the service is unknown, especially because of the high cost of a Peloton exercise bike. Most of the company’s stationary bikes run upwards of $2,000, without considering setup fees which can run as high as $300.

Republicans say that the overall cost to taxpayers would have been as high as $120,000 if nearly all the House’s 10,000 employees join along with the 2,300 Capitol Police contingent. They say that even if the proposal was rejected it still signals the priorities of some Democrats. 

“Instead of trying to help struggling families, Democrats are plundering their pocketbooks to pay for Pelosi’s Peloton membership,” said Mr. McCarthy. “You can’t imagine a more out-of-touch party.” 

Mr. McCarthy pledged that if Republicans took back control of Congress this November, the party would curtail the lucrative perks being offered to House staff.

Mrs. Pelosi’s office did not return requests for comment on this story.

Correction: An earlier version of this report mischaracterized Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s role in the deal with Peloton.

• Haris Alic can be reached at halic@washingtontimes.com.

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