|Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tightened up travel requirements for House members and staffers last week, after reports surfaced of some Representatives enjoying perks on taxpayer funded delegation travel.
The House has had rules governing travel in place since the 1970s, but the Wall Street Journal recently reported that some Representatives had enjoyed extensive perks on the taxpayer dime while traveling overseas, including purchasing alcohol, gifts, and items for family members, or pocketing leftover per diems.
The main changes to the rules include a provision forbidding lawmakers on official travel from flying business class on trips shorter than 14 hours, and requiring them to return any unused travel funds to the Treasury. Members and staffers travelling on official business are also prohibited from using funds for personal reasons. Certain aides are also now prohibited from accompanying members on overseas junkets. Attempts at making Congressional delegations bipartisan are also now required to be documented.
Members’ official travel (using government funds) is restricted to committee delegations. However, Members are also able to travel on private trips with approval; such trips fall under a strict, highly regulated approval and guidance structure. Speaker Pelosi has the authority to make changes to the travel rules unilaterally.
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New travel rules for the House
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