Obama Grants Uber A Sweet Deal After Company Chauffeured DNC VIPs

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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The Obama administration decided Wednesday that federal agencies should reimburse employees who use ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft during the course of their business day.

The General Services Administration (GSA), which supports the functions of federal agencies, explained that employees could use ride-sharing mobile applications “when it is advantageous to the government.”

The GSA continued: “The simple answer is that yes, as a federal employee traveling on official business, you can be reimbursed for rideshares in accordance with your agency procedures and local laws.”

The ruling comes on the heels of a deal struck between the hail-to-ride company and the Democratic National Committee, the host of the Democratic convention, to give Uber passengers exclusive rights to an air-conditioned tent while waiting for rides. The tent was no more than a ten-minute walk from Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center, the location of this year’s DNC.

The partnership between the DNC also includes the “Stars and Stripes” program, which offers free-of-charge Uber rides to special VIPs attending the conventions.

The company attempted to strike a similar deal at the Republican National Convention, but was denied access.

The move also comes after Republican and Democratic lawmakers began lobbying the government to allow federal workers to take advantage of rider sharing applications.

Rep. Seth Moulton, a Democrat from Massachusetts, kicked off the effort by introducing the Government Travel Modernization Act, requiring the GSA craft regulations permitting federal employees to use Uber and Lyft. He called existing rules on transportation old and incomplete.

Meanwhile, Reps. Mark Meadows, a North Carolina Republican, and Virginia Democrat Gerry Connolly crafted legislation reimbursing feds in Washington, D.C. who use ride-sharing companies while the city’s Metrorail system continues to undergo repairs.

Democrats have an acrimonious relationship with the likes of Uber and Lyft, among other companies involved in the sharing industry, with Democratic lawmakers like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren arguing they are hurting taxi companies.

While Democrats have publicly denounced Uber and others, privately they find the rider-sharing companies a useful tool for transportation.

Researchers Michael Decker and Thomas Kise at the Chamber of Commerce group Freedom Partners conducted study on Federal Election Commission officials July 12, finding that five of the top six spenders on ride-sharing companies so far this election cycle are Democrats.

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