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online.wsj.com: Congress Travels More, Public Pays


Thiebear

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http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126092430041092995.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_RIGHTInDepthCarousel

Eleven of the 12 legislators then left the five-day conference two days early

EDINBURGH -- The expenses racked up by U.S. lawmakers traveling here for a conference last month included one for the "control room."

Besides rooms for sleeping, the 12 members of the House of Representatives rented their hotel's fireplace-equipped presidential suite and two adjacent rooms. The hotel cleared out the beds and in their place set up a bar, a snack room and office space. The three extra rooms -- stocked with liquor, Coors beer, chips and salsa, sandwiches, Mrs. Fields cookies and York Peppermint Patties -- cost a total of about $1,500 a night. They were rented for five nights.

While in Scotland, the House members toured historic buildings. Some shopped for Scotch whisky and visited the hotel spa. They capped the trip with a dinner at one of the region's finest restaurants, paid for by the legislators, who got $118 daily stipends for meals and incidentals.

Eleven of the 12 legislators then left the five-day conference two days early.

The tour provides a glimpse of the mixture of business and pleasure involved in legislators' overseas trips, which are growing in number and mostly financed by the taxpayer. Lawmakers travel with military liaisons who carry luggage, help them through customs, escort them on sightseeing trips and stock their hotel rooms with food and liquor. Typically, spouses come along, flying free on jets operated by the Air Force. Legislative aides come too. On the ground, all travel in chauffeured vehicles.

The lawmakers were in Scotland to meet with foreign officials and attend a conference of U.S. and European legislators called the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. A spokesman for Tennessee Democratic Rep. John Tanner, the leader of the delegation of eight Democratic and four Republican House members, said the conference provided "the opportunity to learn first-hand the views and concerns that other countries have over the key security issues of the day."

Such gatherings also allow legislators to meet "members of parliaments who play important roles in their own countries in shaping the security agenda that their governments pursue at NATO," added Mr. Tanner's spokesman, Randy Ford. As for the three rented rooms not used for sleeping, these provided a "secure space for members to conduct meetings," he said.

The overall cost to the government of the trip won't be public for a few weeks. Mr. Tanner has taken seven previous trips to the NATO assembly. Their total reported cost, for him and his co-travelers, came to $575,000, not including the undisclosed cost of travel on Air Force planes.

Mr. Tanner is a founder of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of conservative Democrats dedicated to curbing government spending and balancing the budget. On his Web site is a ticker keeping tabs on the national debt. Five of the eight Democrats on the trip were Blue Dogs

Worst Recession Evah! and we have this going on now?

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I'm really struggling to understand why these elitists get to fly on private jets around the world, even though they were the ones criticizing the Auto execs for coming down to DC in fancy planes.

You can't even fly first class on domestic airlines? What's wrong with that?

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They emptied the Presidential Suite

Plus the room to the left

Plus the room to the right

and turned them all into a Bar..... the Swank Hotel didn't have one?

And they were there for 3 of the 5 days.

Sneaking out during those 3....

Should be a 30 question multiple choice quiz on what was talked about.. if you fail you pay back your portion of the cost.

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I honestly don't give 2 :pooh: about stories like this. I also don't care if they get a $10,000 increase in salary, or if they sent out an extra mailing to their constitutients, or anything else petty like that.

What bills are they working on? What is their stance on the issues that face the nation?

The travel expenses of Congress are the smallest drop of water in a bucket the size of Lake Michigan.

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I honestly don't give 2 :pooh: about stories like this. I also don't care if they get a $10,000 increase in salary, or if they sent out an extra mailing to their constitutients, or anything else petty like that.

What bills are they working on? What is their stance on the issues that face the nation?

The travel expenses of Congress are the smallest drop of water in a bucket the size of Lake Michigan.

I tried to use this reasoning with the IRS but they didn't think it was a very good one for not paying my taxes. It's less about the money and more about the culture or the lack of leading by example.

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I tried to use this reasoning with the IRS but they didn't think it was a very good one for not paying my taxes. It's less about the money and more about the culture or the lack of leading by example.

I don't see it that way. They didn't do anything illegal as far as I know, like not pay taxes. I don't see that this story shows bribery, or excessive influence by lobbyists on their votes, or anything like that.

Angry populism often focuses more on the little details than it should. I don't expect Congressmen to live like I do, and and I don't get angry when they don't. I think they should be paid well, and I expect that perks will go with the job.

In exchange, I expect them to do their job. Tell me about how these 12 guys are doing their job, not about whether they ate some Mrs. Fields cookies and went sightseeing with their wives.

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I don't see it that way. They didn't do anything illegal as far as I know, like not pay taxes. I don't see that this story shows bribery, or excessive influence by lobbyists on their votes, or anything like that.

Angry populism often focuses more on the little details than it should. I don't expect Congressmen to live like I do, and and I don't get angry when they don't. I think they should be paid well, and I expect that perks will go with the job.

In exchange, I expect them to do their job. Tell me about how these 12 guys are doing their job, not about whether they ate some Mrs. Fields cookies and went sightseeing with their wives.

Spending close to a million dollars on a free for all needless trip is the problem. It's the details that matter, and those are not being followed.

It's the worst recession...

The President says we should buy better insulation... yet we fly private jets and party like college kids while pretending to be worried about the deficit...

You can tell a lot about a person/group, when you watch how they Actually operate.

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