2012-2013 Congressional Travel

WHO IS THE most well-traveled member of Congress?  That depends.  If the term is used strictly in a congressional sense, in that only trips subsidized by the taxpayer count, and furthermore only trips that occurred in the last year, then Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.) earns the superlative.  According to HT Politics’ new “Data Mine,” Dreier went on nine trips to 22 countries for a total of 58 travel days, beating out his Republican colleague and fellow Californian Devin Nunes, who went 6-20- and 33.  In fact, Californians took gold, silver, and bronze for total travel days, the last going to Karen Bass (D), who racked up an impressive 29.

The most visited country was Afghanistan,  followed closely by Spain and France.  No surprises here: Afghanistan has our troops, and Spain and France are two of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.  But it is curious how Kenya got more visits than Mexico, our immediate neighbor, and Saudi Arabia was graced with more than double the amount of travel days taken in the UK, with whom we share a “special” relationship.

Yet who’s to say that only national interests should be heeded when these trips are planned?  Lawmakers need breaks too, and a stroll down the Champs-Élysées can be equally restorative for them as it is for the average tourist.  Whether this should come at the taxpayer’s expense, however, is a contentious matter.

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