EAST PALATKA, Fla. – U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis announced at a town hall meeting Tuesday night he plans to forgo the pension and health care plan available to all members of Congress.
Representing Florida's 6th district at a town hall meeting at the Putnam County Agricultural Center, DeSantis, a Republican from Ponte Vedra, argued that he was more interested his serving his constituents than earning the congressional benefits.
"Members of Congress are going up there to serve. But you've got to come back and live under the laws you have and you shouldn't give yourself any better benefits than the rest of us," said DeSantis.
Members of the East Palatka community like Putnam County Commissioner Walt Pellicer say they are excited about the conversation DeSantis has started.
"I think if he can set that precedent, it's a great thing and give the others something to think about," said Pellicer.
DeSantis' pledge does not come without some criticism. The publication FlaglerLive.com argues it's illegal for the Congressman to opt out of the benefit program that covers a large number of federal employees. On the issue of federal pensions, Flagler Live reports, as a freshman congressman, DeSantis is not even eligible. He would have to re-elected twice before he would be vested in the pension plan.
DeSantis said he is not concerned with the criticism and is firm in his choice to forgo the federal benefits. He hopes his message will spread throughout Congress.
"We spend too much money as it is. And I think that politicians have created rules for themselves that aren't necessarily beneficial to other members of society. So I just wanted to lead by example and say that I would decline the congressional pension and the healthcare too," said DeSantis.