WASHINGTON (AP) Countries whose diplomats fail to pay their parking tickets could lose part of their foreign aid under a measure approved by the Senate Tuesday.
"If a diplomat ignores a parking ticket, we send him foreign aid. That makes no sense," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who sponsored the amendment to a foreign aid spending bill with fellow New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The amendment, approved by a voice vote, would reduce a country's foreign aid package by whatever that country owes in unpaid tickets, plus an additional 10 percent penalty. The measure would apply to tickets and fines incurred in New York City and Washington, D.C., in the period from April 1, 1997, to Sept. 30, 2003.
Many embassies reside in Washington, and New York is home to the United Nations.
The provision would help New York City recover up to $21 million owed for 186,000 unpaid tickets, according to Schumer's office. The secretary of state can waive the penalties if it is in the national interest.
Schumer's office said that among the major offenders are Egypt, which owes nearly $2 million from 17,825 tickets; Kuwait, which owes $1.2 million from 11,122 violations; and Nigeria, in arrears almost $1 million from 8,520 violations.
Among others with a big backlog of unpaid tickets are Indonesia, Morocco, Brazil, Pakistan, Senegal, Angola and Sudan. Of these, only Kuwait owes more in tickets than it receives in foreign aid.
A breakdown in diplomatic parking infractions in Washington was not immediately available.
Last year, after New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg threatened to tow illegally parked consular vehicles, the State Department and the city reached a deal under which diplomats agreed to pay about 60 percent of their outstanding tickets. Schumer said that while this was progress, more than $21 million was still owed.
The foreign aid bill still has to be reconciled with a similar House bill before going to the president.
Pretty funny in a pathetic sort of way. I mean, Egypt has 17,000+ unpaid parking violations? The sad thing is a citizen of these countries would be required to pay for their parking tickets or else face warrants in the US, but the diplomats are able to get away with it. Of course, this brings up the bigger subject of whether or not diplomats should be subject the American justice system.