The WSJ has an article today,”Congress’s Travel Tab Swells”, on the rise in taxpayer-funded codels taken by lawmakers. The whole article is worth reading if only for the section on the Galapagos Islands. Nobody should be surprised that there is an increase in anything to do with spending money but here are the key points:
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. (emphasis mine)
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 increase is by no means unique to the Democratic party as evidenced by the image of Alabama Governor Bob Riley and Senator Richard Shelby chatting it up at the Paris Air Show before the Senator took a cruise on the River Seine with defense-industry executives and other elected officials.
In October, Rep. Bud Cramer (D- AL) 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 screw the taxpayers over one last time conclude some issues that I was working on,” Mr. Cramer said. He now works for a lobbying firm in Washington.
John at Power Line had this to add—
Not all overseas travel is in the “junket” category, of course. But even when Congressmen piously tell us they’re checking out war zones, there may be more to the story:
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.
If you’re suffering from our weak economy and hoping Congress will spend your hard-earned tax dollars wisely, Nancy Pelosi has a message for you: eat your heart out!