Monday, August 10, 2009

Congressional Summer Vacation a.k.a. Fact-Finding Mission

Despite the (feigned) outrage over the jet purchase, Congress seems set for some exotic summer vacations - no, fact-finding missions.

Opposition Emerges to House's Jet Spree (8/10/09 Wall Street Journal)

"WASHINGTON -- Bipartisan opposition is emerging in the Senate to a plan by House lawmakers to spend $550 million for additional passenger jets for senior government officials.

"The resistance to buying eight Gulfstream and Boeing planes comes as members of both chambers of Congress embark on the busiest month of the year for official overseas travel. The plan to upgrade the fleet of government jets, which was included in a broader defense-funding bill, has also sparked criticism from the Pentagon, which has said it doesn't need half of the new jets.

""The whole thing kind of makes me sick to my stomach," said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) in an interview Sunday. "It is evidence that some of the cynicism about Washington is well placed -- that people get out of touch and they spend money like it's Monopoly money.""

"Some", Ms. McCaskill?

"The tension over the jets is erupting just as lawmakers embark on the high season for government travel. Traditionally, August is the busiest travel period of the year, since Congress usually recesses for a month... "

So where are they going this year? According to the article,

  • A delegation led by Mr. Boehner, House Republican leader, is going to Germany, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China, and rest in Vancouver, Canada, before flying back to Washington D.C.
  • A delegation led by Senator McCain is going to Libya, Kuwait, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan and Iceland
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.), Sen. Judd Gregg (R., N.H.) and others are going to London

The last one looks boring, but the other two look good to me. Some exotic locations like Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Libya, Yemen, Iceland. Summer in Bavarian Alps is nice, too (if that's where they are going). Fact-finding missions to the Galapagos islands can wait until the warm season there (December - May).


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