Government Spending on Travel Swells

Congress's Travel Tab Swells...Spending on Taxpayer-Funded Trips Rises Tenfold...From Italy to the Galápagos...

WASHINGTON -- Spending by lawmakers on taxpayer-financed trips abroad has risen sharply in recent years, a Wall Street Journal analysis of travel records shows, involving everything from war-zone visits to trips to exotic spots such as the Galápagos Islands.

The spending on overseas travel is up almost tenfold since 1995, and has nearly tripled since 2001, according to the Journal analysis of 60,000 travel records. Hundreds of lawmakers traveled overseas in 2008 at a cost of about $13 million. That's a 50% jump since Democrats took control of Congress two years ago.


Both parties are to blame for this purely disgusting spending. This makes me so freaking mad. What makes these people think they are entitled to such an extravagant lifestyle? No wonder they have lost touch with reality and their constituents. No wonder they would do anything to get reelected. No wonder they lie, cheat, steal, back stab, and slime their way to the top. These people are leeches, living off the American Public, while at the same time preaching moderate spending, responsibility, ethics, etc.

It is of note that spending has doubled since the democrats took over.

Lawmakers say that the trips are a good use of government funds because they allow members of Congress and their staff members to learn more about the world, inspect U.S. assets abroad and forge better working relationships with each other. The travel, for example, includes official visits to American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Journal analysis, based on information published in the Congressional Record, also shows that taxpayer-funded travel is a big and growing perk for lawmakers and their families. Some members of Congress have complained in recent months about chief executives of bailed-out banks, insurance companies and car makers who sponsored corporate trips to resorts or used corporate jets for their own travel.


Exactly! Do you remember the three ring circus congress has put on, when scolding executives of private enterprise? Congress blows a gasket when companies use private jets, give large bonuses, or plan expensive outings for their employees. Then what do they do? They turn around and fly their family and friends around the world on 737's that cost $5000+ an HOUR to operate.

Lawmakers frequently bring along spouses on congressional trips. If they take commercial flights, they have to buy tickets for spouses. If they fly on government planes -- as they usually do -- their spouses can fly free.

Paris Air Show
In mid-June, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D., Hawaii) led a group of a half-dozen senators and their spouses on a four-day trip to France for the biennial Paris Air Show. An itinerary for the event shows that lawmakers flew on the Air Force's version of the Boeing 737, which costs $5,700 an hour to operate. They stayed at the Intercontinental Paris Le Grand Hotel, which advertises rooms from $460 a night.

The lawmakers were invited to a dinner party at the U.S. Embassy and had cocktails at a private party at the Eiffel Tower. Mr. Inouye attended a dinner sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association, a U.S. trade group. Another senator on the trip, Alabama Republican Sen. Richard Shelby, took a cruise on the River Seine with defense-industry executives and elected officials from Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.

Mr. Inouye and Mr. Shelby declined to comment.

Often, lawmakers combine trips to war zones with visits to more tranquil spots.
In February, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led a delegation of Democratic lawmakers to visit U.S. troops in Afghanistan for a day. Before landing in Kabul, the eight lawmakers and their entourage of spouses and aides spent eight days in Italy, spending $57,697 on hotels and meals.

A spokesman for Ms. Pelosi says that she was working in Italy, meeting with U.S. troops at Aviano Air Base, laying a wreath at the Florence American Cemetery, giving a speech to Italian lawmakers and visiting the Pope, among other things.

Right, in 8 days she did 4 things. How long does it take to lay down a wreath, and why was it necessary for her to bring a large group of people with you, and spend $56,697?

Homeland Security


Many congressional trips have been to Iraq or Afghanistan. In 2008, lawmakers and aides took 113 trips to Iraq, according to the Journal analysis, down slightly from the prior year. Not much money is spent in the war zones. Lawmakers are not allowed to stay overnight in Iraq and receive only minimal spending allowances for their one-day visits.


Scores of lawmakers are spending this week abroad on taxpayer-funded trips. Congressional offices say they won't release details of the trips for security reasons. Disclosure rules require lawmakers to print some information about their taxpayer-funded travel in the Congressional Record within 30 days of returning home. .

For security reasons or accountability reasons?

Congressional Fleet

The congressional trips are possible thanks in part to an unlimited fund created by a three-decade old law. Nearly two dozen government officials work full-time organizing the trips. Much of the costs are not made public, including the cost of flying on government jets. The Air Force maintains a fleet of 16 passenger planes for use by lawmakers.

Documents obtained by the Journal show that the cost of flying a small group of lawmakers to the Middle East is about $150,000. Larger trips on the Air Force's version of the Boeing 757 cost about $12,000 an hour. Two federal agencies pay for most of the travel -- the Defense Department and the State Department.

Exotic Locales

In October, Rep. Bud Cramer (R., Ala.) spent two weeks in Europe on government business. Reports show that Mr. Cramer spent $5,700 on hotels, meals and incidentals. Mr. Cramer wasn't running for re-election and left office just two months later.

"Knowing that I was leaving with my 18 years of seniority, I wanted to conclude some issues that I was working on," Mr. Cramer said. He now works for a lobbying firm in Washington.

What were those issues? Fitting in a last minute vacation on our dime? Didn't get enough pork while you were in office?

Some of the most expensive travel is to exotic locales.

Last summer, Rep. Brian Baird (D., Wash.) took a four-day trip to the Galápagos Islands with his wife, four other lawmakers and their family members. The lawmakers spent $22,000 on meals and hotels, records show. Mr. Baird, a member of the House Science Committee, said the trip was to learn about global warming.

Oh good, another example of how people use global warming to scam people out of their money. Tell me, why were your wife, four other lawmakers, and their families required for you to investigate global warming claims?

On the first day, lawmakers toured a breeding center for giant tortoise and land iguanas before dining with scientists, according to an itinerary for the trip. The next morning, lawmakers headed to the Galápagos National Park while their family members had the option of hiking, swimming or shopping. That afternoon, the group boarded a boat to visit a sea-lion colony and search for white-tip sharks.

Mr. Baird didn't respond to a request for comment.

Ahh good, sounds like you got a lot accomplished. Did you determine the validity of global warming at any of the stores or swimming pools you visited?

To read the whole article, visit the WSJ

This couldn't have pissed me off more than it did. This article infuriates me. If there was ever an argument for term limits, this is it. If there was ever an argument for complete transparency and disclosure, this is it. The only details that need to be undisclosed for security reasons, are travel times, and exact routes. Costs, items purchased, passengers, etc., are not matters of national security. I hope there are investigations into this gross spending of tax payer dollars.


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