Taxpayers saved on travel bills during the coronavirus pandemic as Congress dramatically ramped down its foreign expenses – but those trips are back at a rapid clip.
In recent days, senators and representatives have lifted off for Germany, India, the United Arab Emirates and several stops in Africa.
First-class commercial airfare and accommodations for congressional representatives and their staff for official travel is covered by the Treasury Department, with virtually no limits. Those bills trickled to about $1.3 million in fiscal year 2021 but ballooned back to nearly $15 million last year.
That doesn’t account for the hundreds of trips for which the military provides transportation; the costs of using military aircraft are never disclosed.
Lawmakers take the trips – often derided as junkets – to confer with foreign officials, visit U.S. military installations and observe overseas projects funded by the U.S. government. Congress does not have to approve the spending for foreign travel, and there is no set daily dollar limit, trip, office or individual.