Heard on the Hill

Sean Patrick Maloney Says Tampon Buy Denied by House Panel

But House Administration Committee says it “did not provide any guidance”

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., says the House Administration Committee told his office it may not purchase tampons out of MRA funds, but the panel denies it offered any guidance. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 9:57 p.m. | New York Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney said he tried to buy tampons for his office but was denied permission by the House Administration Committee. 

But a House Administration spokeswoman said it “did not send an email or provide any guidance to Rep. Maloney’s Office.”

“We wish Rep. Maloney’s Office would have contacted the Committee for guidance before falsely claiming they: one, contacted the Committee at all for assistance; and two, received guidance from the Committee rejecting their purchase,” the spokeswoman said in a statement Thursday afternoon, while also calling for him to retract his “incorrect statement.”

Late Thursday evening, Maloney responded with a video on Twitter by reading what he described as the email his office received Tuesday from an employee at the Office of Finance, which the congressman said reports directly to the House Administration Committee. 

According to Maloney, his office was told that tampons were “not an office supply but a personal care item” and that it would have to pay back $37.16. 

“The House Administration Committee, which makes all these rules and is controlled by the Republicans, is lying about it and  saying that’s not their policy and I’m making it up. And they’ve even called for me to retract what we said,” Maloney said in the video. 

The Members’ Representational Allowance, known as the MRA, annually allocates money to lawmakers that they are permitted to use for tissues, hand sanitizer, lotion, and first-aid kits, among other things, for their offices.

“I couldn’t believe it when I found out about this — we use our office funds to pay for other necessary health products and there’s no damn good reason they can’t be used for this purpose,” Maloney said in an earlier statement Thursday.

The New York Democrat wrote a letter to House Administration Chairman Gregg Harper, asking him to reverse the committee’s “policy barring the use of funds to purchase feminine hygiene products.”

But the House Administration spokeswoman said it was “absolutely permissible to purchase necessary health and safety products to have in the office, especially in case of an emergency.”

In his earlier statement and his video, Maloney pointed out that more than half of his D.C. staffers are female, and he also wanted to provide the tampons for visitors and constituents.

“The Members’ Representational Allowance (MRA) can be used to purchase other necessary hygienic products including tissues and hand sanitizer,” he wrote in the letter to Harper. “With that in mind, it is simply outrageous that the Committee’s policy bars the use of funds for another necessary hygienic product.”

“Using office funds to purchase feminine hygiene is common practice in the private sector and elsewhere in the public sector. There’s no legitimate reason to prevent it here in the House of Representatives. We’re finally having long-overdue discussions regarding women’s rights in this institution. This is part of that discussion,” he added.

 

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