Important Notices About Leasing Vehicles
Payments in excess of $1,000 per month cannot be charged against a Member's Representational Allowance (“MRA”). This limit does not apply to mobile offices.
Vehicle leases for the 114th Congress may not commence prior to January 3, 2015.
For payments to be made from a Member's Representational Allowance (“MRA”), a leased vehicle must be selected from the list of vehicles designated by the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) as “low greenhouse gas emitting vehicles.” Please review the EPA website for compliance.
If you have additional questions, please contact the Administrative Counsel.
Answers to frequently asked questions are below organized by topic:
- Low Greenhouse Gas Emitting Vehicle Lease Requirements
- Lease Document / Terms of the Lease
- Money Issues
Can I lease a vehicle for official use?
Yes. Ordinary and necessary expenses related to a long-term rental or lease of a vehicle by a Member in the Member's District are reimbursable.
Who may drive the leased vehicle?
The Member or any staff person can drive the vehicle so long as they have a valid driver’s license. The family of the Member is not permitted to drive the leased vehicle, unless they are on the Member’s staff.
Should I lease the car in the Member’s name or the District’s name?
It’s your choice. Members are now permitted to lease a vehicle in the name of their District, or they may still continue to have the vehicle leased in their name.
Does anything special need to be done to lease a vehicle in the District's name?
- First, the lease needs to be made out with the following as the Lessee: The (District number) Congressional District of (State), U.S. House of Representatives
- Second, when the Representative signs at the bottom where the lease reads "Lessee," (s)he must write the same phrase as italicized above.
- Finally, where the lease reads "By," the Member would sign his/her name. Under no condition may the Representative sign on the line for “Co-lessee."
Is there additional paperwork for leasing a vehicle in the District's name?
Yes. The car dealer/leasing company may require the Member to prove (s)he is authorized to lease a car for “The (District number) Congressional District of (State), U.S. House of Representatives.” Before the Member goes to a car dealer/leasing company to lease a car, be sure to download and complete the Statement of Authority, which authorizes the Member to enter into the lease. This document must be presented to the car dealer/leasing company to show that the Member has the authority to sign for the District in leasing a vehicle.
How should I go about leasing the vehicle?
Once the Member has found a vehicle that (s)he wants to lease for official use, a lease document must be executed. The House does not provide a standard lease for vehicles. Members should use the lease form supplied by the car dealer/leasing company. Prior to signing a lease, the Member/ Member-Elect must submit the proposed lease, accompanied by a Vehicle Lease Attachment, to the Administrative Counsel for review and approval. If the proposed terms and conditions of the lease are determined to be in compliance with applicable law and House Rules and regulations, the Administrative Counsel will notify the Member/Member-Elect that (s)he may proceed with the execution of the lease. Please submit the proposed lease and Vehicle Lease Attachment either by inter-office mail (217 Ford House Office Building), e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), or fax (202-225-6999).
What if I’ve already signed the lease?
Even if the lease has already been signed, you still must send the documents (lease, Attachment, and, if necessary, Member Statement Acknowledging Personal Responsibility for Vehicle Lease) to the Administrative Counsel as soon as possible for review. Payments cannot be made until the lease has been approved.
How does one identify a qualifying vehicle?
For payments to be made from the MRA, a leased vehicle must be designated as a “low greenhouse gas emitting vehicles.” Please review the EPA website at http://www.epa.gov/otaq/climate/regs-fleets.htm to confirm if a vehicle qualifies.
All lease documents should be submitted to the Administrative Counsel for review and approval before signing the lease.
U.S. House of Representatives
H2-217 Ford House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
What is the review process?
Prior to executing (signing) any lease agreement, you must submit a copy of the proposed lease, accompanied by a House Vehicle Lease Attachment Form, to the Administrative Counsel for a determination as to whether or not the terms and conditions of the proposed lease are in compliance with applicable federal law, House Rules and regulations. If determined to be in compliance, the Administrative Counsel will notify the Member that (s)he may proceed with the execution of the lease.
What is the approval process?
Once the lease and the House Vehicle Lease Attachment Form have been signed by the Member and the car dealer/leasing company, the completed documents must be submitted to the Administrative Counsel for approval. Your submission must also include a completed ACH Vendor/Miscellaneous Payment Enrollment Form, which can be found in the side bar of this page.
Upon approval, the Administrative Counsel will forward a copy of the approved lease to the Office of Finance. Upon receipt by the Office of Finance, the monthly lease costs will be paid each month from the MRA on the automatic payment plan.
Please note: If a Member executes a lease prior to review by the Administrative Counsel and the lease is subsequently determined to be non-compliant, payments cannot be charged against the MRA.
Are any related expenses reimbursable?
- In addition to the monthly lease cost, the following expenses are reimbursable:
- The cost of liability insurance (liability insurance is strongly recommended)
- Usually the car dealer/leasing company will specify in the lease agreement the minimum amount of insurance that the Member is required to carry on the vehicle;
- If the car dealer/leasing company does not specify an amount, the vehicle should be insured at least for such minimum amount as may be required under the governing state’s laws;
- If insurance is not specifically required under the terms of the lease, it is the responsibility of the Member to decide what kind and what level of insurance is prudent;
- The insurance policy should be specific to the vehicle being leased and should identify all authorized drivers (Member, as well as staff). The use of the vehicle by an unauthorized driver is not permissible.
- Excess mileage charges incurred pursuant to the terms of the lease agreement;
- Incidental operating and maintenance expenses (gasoline, oil, general maintenance, etc.);
- Registration and/or licensing fees;
- Property taxes assessed during the term of the lease; and
- Wear and tear.
- The cost of liability insurance (liability insurance is strongly recommended)
- Security deposits, termination fees, traffic violations, depreciation loss based on premature return and similar fees, penalties or charges are not reimbursable. All of the necessary forms and instructions can be found in the sidebar of this page or the HouseNet Forms Library.
What documentation is required for vehicle lease approval?
An original copy of the lease and an original copy of an executed Vehicle Lease Attachment (Member or District) must be submitted to the Administrative Counsel, 217 Ford HOB. A Member Statement Acknowledging Personal Responsibility for Vehicle Lease may also be required.
What is the Vehicle Lease Attachment?
The Vehicle Lease Attachment is a document that changes or adds to the terms of the lease document. This lease attachment is designed to protect the House and its Members by ensuring that the car dealer/leasing company is aware of special terms that apply to a Member of Congress.
What is the Member Statement Acknowledging Personal Responsibility for Vehicle Lease?
If the lease is in the District’s name, the Member must agree to transfer the lease into his/her own name if the Member leaves office before the end of the lease term. Car dealers/leasing companies differ in the amount of transfer fees they charge; however, the Member is personally responsible for paying any and all transfer fees. If the Member chooses instead to terminate the lease (or, if the car dealer/leasing company denies the transfer and the Member must therefore terminate the lease), the Member is personally liable for paying all termination fees.
Does it matter what the payment date is on the lease?
Yes. The Office of Finance makes payments on the 20th of the month. If your payment date is at the very beginning of the month, you will be assessed a hefty late charge every single month. We recommend you have the payment date set as the 20th of the month or later, to ensure that late charges are not assessed.
How long does it take to review a lease?
We attempt to review the leases right away. For a few months after the election, when most Members are submitting district office and vehicle leases, we have dozens of leases coming into the office each day. Therefore, it may take a little longer than usual. Otherwise, we aim to have an answer back to you in a few days.
Do you need to see the original or can you review a fax?
A fax is usually sufficient so long as we can read it. Sometimes the leases are on long paper and if it isn’t copied first, then it is not possible to read it. Other times the background is too dark to read anything. Our fax is 202-225-6999.
What happens if the lease complies with House Rules?
An attorney will let you know that the lease (and the Attachment) can be signed by both the Member and the car dealer/leasing company.
What happens if the lease does NOT comply with House Rules?
An attorney in the office will contact you with the changes needed. You will need to relay these changes to your car dealer/leasing company who will print out another version of the lease. You should then resend the corrected lease for another review.
What should I do with a fully executed (signed) copy of the lease?
Once the Member and the Car Dealer/Leasing Company have signed the lease and the Attachment, send the originals to the Administrative Counsel (217 Ford HOB). We will make a final review, sign the lease, and send a copy to the Office of Finance for immediate processing and payment.
Can I send a faxed copy of the final lease?
Once a lease is completely executed, you may fax us a copy of the lease (fax: 202-225-6999) in order to expedite the approval process. However, you must follow-up by sending the original document with authentic signatures.
Does the Member need to actually sign the lease?
Yes. Only the Member may sign–not a staffer.
Do I need to send a copy of the lease to the Office of Finance?
No. Once the lease is approved, the Administrative Counsel will send a copy to the Office of Finance.
Is it possible to provide a car dealer/leasing company with payment at delivery or signing of the lease?
Yes, there are a couple ways to pay at delivery or pick-up of the vehicle:
- The Member may make payment from his/her personal funds and then be reimbursed from the MRA.
- If the lease is completed, reviewed and approved by Administrative Counsel in advance of the delivery or pick-up, then Finance can create a check or have funds transferred to the account of the dealer.
Is liability insurance for the vehicle recommended and payable from the MRA?
Yes, liability insurance is strongly recommended and usually required by the car dealer/leasing company. The amount of the insurance premium is reimbursable through the MRA on a voucher basis.
Is there a limit on the amount that may be spent on the lease?
The lease must be consistent with prevailing market rates. Monthly lease charges in excess of $1,000 cannot be charged against the MRA.
Can the lease include a payment for a security deposit?
You cannot use the MRA to pay for a security deposit. However, the Member can use the Member’s personal funds to pay for a security deposit.
Can I purchase the car at the end of the lease for a discount?
No, equity may not be gained by the Member during the length of the lease.
Do I have to pay state sales/use tax for the lease?
It depends on the state. Different states have enacted state laws that exempt the federal government from having to pay sales or use tax. Contact the Office of the General Counsel for a tax-exempt letter (202-225-9700).
What vehicle-related expenses are reimbursable?
Expenses related to vehicles leased long-term, including, but not limited to the following, are reimbursable:
- The actual monthly cost of the lease (not in excess of $1,000)
- The cost of insurance for the vehicle
- Excess mileage charges incurred pursuant to the terms of the lease
- Incidental operating expenses (gasoline, oil, general maintenance, etc.)
- Wear and tear
- Registration fees
- Property taxes
What expenses are NOT reimbursable?
The following expenses are NOT reimbursable:
- Security deposits
- Monthly payments in excess of $1,000
- Transfer or termination fees
- Traffic violations
- Depreciation loss based on premature return
- Similar fees, penalties, or charges