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April 13, 2010

Members, staff undertake foreign travel with ‘no spending limit attached’

By CREW Staff

When you hear about people who get to travel overseas  unlimited travel budgets with no caps on what can be spent on hotels and room services, chances are you think of someone who might be featured in that old t.v. show "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous." But, it turns out, those travelers also included members of Congress and their staffs, according to Roll Call:

 Members of Congress and their staff racked up almost $15 million worth of foreign travel in 2009, but Congress didn’t have to pay the tab.

Under a Korean War-era law governing Congressional foreign travel, Congress doesn’t pay for its own trips abroad, and there is no apparent limit on what the government can spend for Members’ hotels, taxicabs and room service.

When a Congressional committee holds a field hearing in Wisconsin or a Member of Congress flies to a conference in Arkansas with a few staff members, those travel costs are paid for out of the annual budgets of either the committee’s or the Member’s office.

But when a Congressional delegation travels overseas, the accommodations are made by the State Department and billed back to a government account that automatically refills itself and has no spending limit attached.

It's like traveling with a credit card that has no limit and no worries about paying the bill. And, people on Capitol Hill wonder why their approval ratings are so low. They don't live like the rest of us and this is just another example.

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