Washington, D.C. – The nation’s premier taxpayer watchdog group, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), today expressed outrage over reports that the Senate is spending more money than ever on foreign travel. A Roll Call article by Paul Singer today disclosed that the Senate’s reported travel tab for 2010 will exceed $5 million for the first time. That figure significantly underestimates the chamber’s real travel costs.
“The Senate is completely out of touch with taxpayers when senators spend a record amount on foreign travel while the annual budget deficit and national debt are at record levels,” said CAGW President Tom Schatz. “Senators should be cutting back on expenses associated with their jobs, much like businesses and families had to do during these difficult economic circumstances. Instead, it seems that ‘fiscal responsibility’ is a foreign concept to them.”
According to Roll Call, “The Congressional Research Service recently tallied Congressional foreign travel expenditure reports and concluded that the cost of these trips has more than tripled since 1994.” The article also included information about the lack of transparency: “Congressional foreign travel is paid for out of two standing ‘foreign currency’ accounts in the U.S. Treasury that automatically refill themselves, and Congress does not have to appropriate money for these trips. There is also no budget for Congressional travel, so Members of Congress never have to inquire how much money is left for travel in a given year.”
The article stated that real costs are also hidden because travel tallies don’t include the tens of millions of dollars spent by the Pentagon on aircraft for trips and other expenses that come out of agency budgets.
“During every congressional recess, there are reports about the absurd costs associated with Congress’ taxpayer-funded junkets,” continued Schatz. “Recent news articles have also drawn new attention to the issue of White House travel. These reports indicate that taxpayers do not have a clear sightline on the travel costs for Congress or the White House. Politicians should be open and transparent about their travel costs, instead of using a ridiculous amount of resources and then hiding the real total through the use of military, agency, and other slush funds.”
CAGW is issuing a call to action and requesting that Congress and the White House conduct an audit and produce a public report that accounts for the total dollar amount associated with official travel, to the extent that such information does not compromise national security.
Submitted by Citizens Against Government Waste, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, mismanagement and abuse in government.