Monday, April 16, 2007

Dem Congress taking lavish junkets on taxpayer dime

Why, it seems like yesterday that Dems were sharing our outrage at excessive and unnecessary Republican spending! They campaigned on cleaning things up in D.C., including curbing unneeded spending. Apparently, the unneeded spending they wanted to curb must be defense spending, because I'm not seeing it much in other areas. From the Examiner:
Congress is keeping Andrews Air Force base plenty busy this year ferrying lawmakers all over the globe at taxpayers’ expense. Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi took his wife, nine Democrats and two Republicans - Reps. Dan Lungren of California and Mike Rogers of Alabama - on a whirlwind tour of the Caribbean last week. After stops in Honduras and Mexico, they stopped in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where the delegation stayed at the five-star Caneel Bay resort.

In a separate trip to the Caribbean last week, Rep. Eliot Engel of New York squired his wife and four Democratic members to Grenada and Trinidad.

All told, the military flew at least 13 congressional delegations to various destinations during the Easter recess -- at an estimated rate of $10,000 or more per flying hour.

The congressional delegation trips, known as CODELs, are paid for by taxpayers. They are supposed to be directly related to members’ official duties, and House guidelines also stipulate that delegations include members of both parties to qualify for military planes -- a requirement that Speaker Nancy Pelosi waived for Engel’s group and two other delegations.

“There was a good faith effort made to include Republican members,” a Pelosi spokesman said. “For one reason or another, that did not work.”
In their successful campaign to win control of Congress last fall, Democrats accused Republicans of extravagant travel paid for by lobbyists. Some of these trips carried a strong whiff of influence peddling. The worst that can be said of CODELS, and critics often say it, is that they’re junkets.

BEVERAGE ALERT! Put down your drink. You've been warned!
Thompson’s office said he toured the Caribbean because he now chairs the Homeland Security Committee and wanted to see vacation hot spots to “examine border security and port security.” Three other members of the delegation also brought along their spouses.

Yeah, and I'd also like to check out St. Croix and Cancun to see how Al Qaeda might hit us there! Continuing:
At the Caneel Bay resort, where room rates reach $1,100 per night, the spokeswoman said Thompson and his wife paid the “government rate.” But, according to the reservations department, Caneel Bay doesn’t “offer any government rates.”

How's that for "fiscal responsibility"? Let's stay at a $1100/nt. hotel with no government rates. Obviously, a Red Roof Inn would be beneath them, huh?

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