Congress travels more at taypayer expense

Members of Congress may be telling others to cut back and criticizing corporate CEOs for lavish perks, but taxpayer-paid junkets are on the increase in the House and Senate and family members often go along for the ride.

A study by the Wall Street Journal shows traveling well at taxpayer expense is a perk that hasn’t been cut back in these financially-trouble times. To the contrary, travel is up and the costs continue to rise.

Members of Congress usually fly on government planes and bring their spouses along at taxpayer expense. They stay in expensive hotels, shop at a discount in embassy gift shops and eat lavishly at top restaurants.

They call these trips "fact-finding tours" but the only facts they obtain are usually information on the best places to sight see, the best places to eat and what other perks might be available.

Golfers in Congress take along their clubs. Spouses bring their shopping lists. At the lavish Paris Air Show in June — where defense contractors ply members of Congress with free booze, gifts and expensive dinners — members lived it up.

Sometimes, the members of Congress and their spouses buy so much that bathrooms on the Air Force planes are turned into storage areas.

As a staff member of the House Committee on Science and Technology, I attended the Paris Air Show in 1985 with a Congressional delegation.

We ate and drank a lot and saw a strip show in Paris but conducted virtually no government business.

Reports The Wall Street Journal:

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.


  1. Nogood

    Friggin hypocrites!!! You take the state of Va. Closing 19 rest areas, while Gov. Kaine will not reveal his “travels” and to think I voted for the hypocrite, will someone kick my ass???

    But to make a brief comment on the closures of the rest areas. I wrote my state rep., Mr. Steve Landes and he never responded. But as I told him, personally, the state of Va. could close every rest area brcause I will not stop at one of the nasty dumps. Va. is for lovers, not for natural body functions. Next trip through Va., bring a pee jug.

  2. southgeorgia912

    Every one of them should be voted out and thrown under a bus. And no doubt that the very ones who abuse this more than anyone are the big cheeses (or those who want to sit back on their sorry ass and think they are the big cheese) – Pelosi, Reid, Schumer, Dodd, Frank.

  3. barak

    If they are any kind of cheese, it is limburger. They all stink.

    We The People re-elect them, so we are to blame. We the people need a candidate that will vote for fairness for congressmen. Their reasonable expenses should be reimbursed if they can prove they really worked at least 8 hours every day while on these trips. And they should be made to pay taxes on the value of the trip, especially if they bring family members along. Why shouldn’t they be treated the same as all other American Citizens? Why not make them clean some of those rest stop toilets? They are always spouting shit and dumping it on us, let them clean it up for a bit of exercise.

    If we make the position of congressperson a little less imperial, we might find some reasonable people running for office especially if they can only serve one, three year term.

  4. woody188

    Yeah, we “voted” for the pre-selected and groomed candidates the globalist corptocracy offered to us.

    Meanwhile on Main Street, “staycations” are quickly becoming the norm. That’s where I went on my unpaid vacation this year, no where.

    I have some facts I’d like to help Congress find.

  5. griff

    What, no strip show photos?

    The phrase “let them eat cake” came to mind as I read this article.

  6. woody188

    I don’t think it’s easy to classify just what we are dealing with today. There are facets of capitalism, socialism, fascism, and communism. For instance, the TARP legislation represented the worst of capitalism (greed driven losses) combined with the worst of socialism (government backed loans and ownership). Our military is actively defending corporate owned property around the world and Congress creates legislation harmful to the public good but in support of corporations such as the Medicare Reform under Bush Jr. (fascism). Some refer to this as the Imperial Executive. Just a fancy name for dictator.

    I still refer to it as the corptocracy due to the continued push by US multi-national corporations to exit the US labor market while their boards and executives still expect the US market to buy their products. I guess they figure someone else will employ US citizens. That and it’s the same large multi-national corporations that support and buy our Congress critters via lobbyists. I don’t think your cited article covered any of this.

  7. almandine

    Well, read it again. All of that was covered, albeit from the Keynesian perspective. Something I’ve mentiond elsewhere, though, is the lack of definitional anchors, which makes wandering back and forth among philosophical monikers rather difficult to keep up with.

    As you have even talked about elsewhere, it’s the bankers most of all that have the stranglehold on our economy and our politicians. Busily bankrupting us all, they are.

    Multi-nationals own the pols too, but they try as much as anything else just to game the system. Their pipeline to power is not nearly as cut and dried as that of the bankers, thus the need for all those lobbyists.

    Bottom line – we’re being sold out to anyone and everyone. That is the real meaning of the article.

  8. woody188

    I think he concentrates too much on blaming Congress, particularly Democrats, and does not follow the money, junkets, and hookers to the real power.

    Like it’s some big coincidence the Keynes worshiping Progressives take over after the Keynes worshiping Neo-conservatives just left. They’ve only been doing it openly for the last 30 years.

    Basically Congress is just useful idiots. A distraction. Actors on a stage. Totally controlled. TARP proved that. The so called Medicare Reform bill proved that.

    Now Obama wears the crown but the real power is being handed over to quiet and secretive bankers that send the militarized police forces and shut down your business if it interferes in their plans.

    What sort of government and economy is that?

  9. Janice

    If you don’t like how your representatives are behaving – TELL THEM! Let them know that you are watching and will not tolerate abuse of the system. Tell your friends, spread the facts – if your representative abusing the system, they won’t want the facts exposed. If they are not, then tell them you appreciate their integrity.

    Go farther to take back our country. Use your spendable dollars to buy American goods, and refuse to buy foreign made. Let the retailers know. We, the American citizens, still control where we spend our money, and in this world, money talks. Spend a little more and buy American. What is so hard to understand about that? Look at where the t-shirt was made before you hand over your money. It’s just as easy to support American workers as some poor sap working for pennies a day in a foreign country to fill the coffers of some corporation. Buy from the local farmer’s market when you can. Buy your meat from local farmers – if you can’t afford a whole hog or steer, find some friends and split meat and the cost. Keep your money local and support family farms. If products are not made in America, don’t buy it! How simple is that. It will bring American jobs back, but YOU have to care enough to do it.

    Write your representatives, call their office, write your newspapers, do something. Don’t just sit on here and bitch, but get up off your behinds and DO SOMETHING! This is our country, and we control our own money. Use it to direct action. In this country, MONEY speaks – use it to shout!!!

  10. Janice

    Declare independence from corporations, big money, and corruption on this July 4th. It’s time to have another revolution in this oountry; this time each of us can fight the good battle by using the collective strength of our dollars. It’s time to stop whining and to do something about it.