Pelosi Lays Down The Law With New Travel Rules

WASHINGTON (AP) -- House lawmakers traveling on official business will be sitting back with the tourists and spending their own money on souvenirs under new rules announced by Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday.

Lawmakers and their staff will have to fly coach or economy class for almost all overseas trips, with business-class seats allowable only when a trip is more than 14 hours, Pelosi said. The new rule applies to domestic flights too.

"These travel policy announcements are part of our continuing effort to ensure transparency and accountability in congressional management," the California Democrat said.

They also come six months before congressional elections where government overspending is certain to be an issue.

Pelosi, in a letter to committee chairmen, makes clear that per diem provided to members or staff can only be used for official purposes: That would exclude spending on gifts or souvenirs or personal side trips. And all excess funds are to be returned to the Treasury.

Per diems, determined by the State Department, vary widely depending on the location. The per diem for Paris is $481, but in Afghanistan, where official visitors would be housed in government facilities, the per diem is $28.

Pelosi also restates or strengthens existing rules: That any member seeking to travel must provide an itinerary, an explanation of purpose and a cost estimate to the relevant committee chairman and that spouses and other family members may accompany a member only when necessary for protocol purposes and at no cost to the government.

A lawmaker's personal staff - as opposed to committee staff - cannot participate in congressional delegations, or CODELS.

Concrete figures on the costs of CODELS are hard to come by, because they are shared by the State Department, the Defense Department and Congress. Roll Call, a newspaper that covers Congress, said that in 2009 House committees reported about $8.7 million in travel expenses, and the Senate a little more than $5 million.

The rules announced by Pelosi do not affect the Senate.

The Wall Street Journal, in a study of military travel documents, said lawmakers took more than 230 trips on Air Force planes between Oct. 1, 2007 and Sept. 30, 2009, at an average cost of more than $500,000 a trip.

Pelosi reminded committee chairmen that the availability of Pentagon aircraft to support congressional travel "is extremely limited" and that, depending on the type of the plane, a minimum and bipartisan number of members will be required.

House Democrats took several steps to eliminate abuses in congressional travel after they gained the majority in 2007, including banning the private funding of trips and barring members from flying on corporate jets.

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  • by Anti-Terrorist Location: Greenville on May 25, 2010 at 01:40 PM
    Madam Speaker. You are full of it. You have been flying around privately and forcing the military to fly you around the past 8 years and now you come up with this BS. How imaginative. No one is going to begrudge our political leaders first class seats when they are actually representing this nation for important reasons overseas. It looks pathetic to send our elected leaders coach class. Whats important are the reasons you go in the first place. Why do so many congressmen/women need to fly overseas. Why would the legislative branch need to go overseas to do their jobs? Take care of that little issue first because you know you will get all kinds of exceptions to your little rules and/or the DNC will pay for your upgrades.
  • by Obama Snake Oil Co Location: Washington on May 17, 2010 at 10:08 AM
    Anonymous Location: Washington on May 15, 2010 at 06:21 AM, Cap and trade have not cleared both houses yet. It is the global warming tax you will be paying for, that the democrat progressives like Al Gore want passed so he can make even more money off of fear and stupidity of people. Fair and Balanced: the heathcare bill she pushed through, was not fair and balanced, it wasn't wanted by Americans. In fact, she even admitted she has not even read the bill. Also, as you recall, she lied about the waterboarding she endorsed. I really do not trust or repect a person that tells a blatant lie that the media had to cover up.
  • by McArthur Park on May 16, 2010 at 08:27 PM
    Just another example of lying by opening her mouth and talking. It sickens me to read such election year sucking up to the voters . The sad thing is that the sheeple of this great country will fall for her deceitful lies hook, line and sinker.
  • by Anonymous on May 16, 2010 at 06:54 AM
    Sounds like it will be just like Obamacare, it will apply to everyone but them.
  • by US citizen for now Location: Washington on May 15, 2010 at 08:02 AM
    If she creates laws she should have to abide by those laws! Stop the government owned 747 that Pelosi is using 2-3 times per week costing us $100 grand per week! Obama and the rest of the Brat Bunch needs to follow suit. Spoil Rotten Communists!!!!!!!!!!!!! is nothing but what they all are. I'm surprised she's still alive.
  • by JOE THE PLUMBER Location: Greenville on May 15, 2010 at 03:30 AM
    "ITS A TRAP!" Everyone needs to continue to travel First Class. How dare her. SAVE ME A SEAT ON THE "STRAIGHT TALK EXPRESS".
  • by Anonymous Location: Washington on May 15, 2010 at 03:21 AM
    osoc I thought gas prices always increase during the vacation season.. Would you prefer her to not try and control travel expense? Why is it everything this lady does is a negative thing to a select group? You are not being fair and balanced as you claim.
  • by Mike Location: So. San Francisco on May 15, 2010 at 02:43 AM
    Already Re-Elected for another 3& 1/2 years in Office last Nov., she's Pandering for her "Party" that takes place in the Penthouse Suites in D.C.s' most expensive Hotels with "Room Service Bills" in a Month alone that cost more than any "Disabled American/Veteran" Checks that have been EARNED by those that receive in a year. Power Hungry, greedy & Politics as usuall. What does "Almost" mean?
  • by Neo Location: Reality on May 15, 2010 at 01:32 AM
    This is nothing more than a political sham by the idiot pelosi to convince the sheep (stupid American people, mostly dumocrats) that she is really looking out for the people. She is worth nothing and her corrupt political party isn't either. When will the American people see throught pelosi and obuma's lies and concept? Stop being the dumocrat party's useful idiots you mindless sheep.
  • by Big Al Location: Greene Co on May 15, 2010 at 12:08 AM
    Her new Aircraft is code named BROOMSTICK ONE!!!!!!
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