Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Congress Gets Around -- On Your Dime

Members of Congress and staffers have spent nearly $24 million of your money traveling around the world over the last 11 years. PoliticalMoneyLine.com has summed up Congressional travel destinations from 1994 to 2004. Some of the trips:

  • United Kingdon -- 701 visits
  • Italy -- 467 visits
  • France -- 409 visits
  • Germany -- 395 visits
  • Belgium -- 250 visits
  • Russia -- 248 visits
  • Turkey -- 185 visits
  • Spain -- 182 visits
  • Kuwait -- 173 visits
  • South Africa -- 166 visits
  • Jordan -- 163 visits
  • Israel -- 158 visits

Former Rep Douglas Bereuter (R-NE) was the most traveled member in PoliticalMoneyLine's report. He took 78 trips to 148 countries over the ten years reviewed. Mr Bereuter also spent the most on taxpayer sponsored travel -- $163,994.

Pentagon Air

The numbers come from commercial travel. But it doesn't include the use of military aircraft used to ferry Congressmen on some of their trips. Those numbers are harder to track down because the Department of Defense defends them quite well from prying eyes.

The military has the second largest airline in the US. Only American has more transports designed for carrying passengers. The Government Accountability Office counted 600 passenger planes in the military fleet back in 1995. That same year, a Defense Department official told the Center for Defense Information the fleet was necessary to "provide the perk of flying to those politicians who can help them the most."

And reporting on who they're flying where -- wouldn't help at all.

Your Travel Expenses

But what is reported to the Clerk of the House is still a lot. The cost of Congressional travel has exploded over the last ten years -- from $385,799 in 1994 to $1.13 million last year. In all, 568 Congressmen made 4,691 trips to 219 countries.

And you though you were only sending those guys to Washington. (PoliticalMoneyLine.com)

[Crossposted at BlogCritics.org]

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