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.
The cost of so-called congressional delegations, known among lawmakers as "codels," has risen nearly 70% since 2005, when an influence-peddling scandal led to a ban on travel funded by lobbyists, according to the data.
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.
Although complete travel records aren't yet available for 2009, it appears that such costs continue to rise. The Journal analysis shows that the government has picked up the tab for travel to destinations such as Jamaica, the Virgin Islands and Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
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.
Hey, members of Congress, how about a Motel 6? They leave the light on for you! It is ridiculous. When the Chosen One and his minions in Congress and the Rollover Republicans are telling us to make do with less, stories like this make one want to storm the Bastille! It is a crime how our money is spent by these spoiled brats, and all they do is ask for more.
Funny, the budget has swelled for travel to these luxurious and exotic locales by 50% under Bullwhip Nancy's watch. I thought she was going to bring this type of graft and corruption under control. But wait, isn't she the one that demanded a jumbo jet for her and her posse to parade around the world in? Never mind. Wake up America!