Congress & Staff Travel Lavishly on Your Dime

April 22, 2010

When your Congressman or one of his staffers travels overseas, guess what?  They get to travel business class on the taxpayer dime.  They don’t have to bother with being uncomfortable in the cheap seats, or amazingly, what they refer to as “voter class.”  If that makes you mad, click here to watch more from ABC News Correspondent Jonathan Karl’s investigation into how the government is traveling on your dime, no receipts necessary.

Congressional travel allowances have been allowed to run amok with no checks or balances.  In addition to the free airfare, members receive daily spending allowances of up to $250. Rules say leftover funds have to be returned, but, surprise, surprise, as The Wall Street Journal reports, Members often pocket the money. One former Republican lawmaker said his former colleagues use the money “for shopping or to buy souvenirs to bring back to constituents. That’s fairly standard.”

There is no incentive for Congress to limit the costs of these trips.  The Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call recently published a story about how Congress does not budget for these trips and does not pay for them.  The money comes from a special fund out of the Treasury Department that automatically renews.  There is no limit.  Last year, it was $15 million.