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Judicial Watch • Taxpayers Finance Lavish Congressional Trips

Taxpayers Finance Lavish Congressional Trips

Taxpayers Finance Lavish Congressional Trips

APRIL 16, 2007

In the months since taking over Congress Democratic legislators have gone on numerous extravagant, taxpayer-financed trips around the world with their spouses on U.S. military planes that cost $10,000 per hour to fly.

The lawmakers, claiming to be on essential fact-finding missions directly related to their job as a public servant, stay only at the most exclusive and expensive hotels and they dine only at the best restaurants. The outrageously expensive air travel is provided by the United States military.

Mississippi Representative Bennie Thompson, for instance, went on a tour of the Caribbean last week that ended with a lavish stay at a five-star Virgin Island resort that cost U.S. taxpayers $1,100 per night for each room. His delegation included several fellow Congressmen and their spouses as well as Thompson’s wife. The trip was essential because, as chair of the Homeland Security Committee, it was crucial that Thompson (and his wife and friends) examine border and port security first hand from a variety of fancy resorts.

In a separate trip to the Caribbean on the same week, New York Rep. Eliot Engel, his wife and four fellow Democratic lawmakers (and their spouses) toured Grenada and Trinidad to explore the best practices for emergency disaster relief. After all, Engel is the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere and it was urgent that he and his colleagues, along with their spouses, investigate such matters.

Incidentally, several of the Democratic House members – California’s Maxine Waters and Texas’s Sheila Jackson among them – who took that Caribbean trip had just returned from a separate emergency mission to Belgium and London with Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank. That delegation’s costly European extravaganza explored the financial services regulatory structures of the European Union.

There are countless other taxpayer-financed excursions on military planes in the last few weeks, all led by the very Democratic lawmakers who criticized Republicans’ extravagant travel in their campaign to win control of Congress last fall. One Democratic Rep. from California, Tom Lantos, justified the costly missions by saying that members of Congress are not simply potted plants.


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