Petersen, Coordinator Specialist
in American National Government
Terrence L. Lisbeth Reference Assistant
Mabel Gracias Reference Assistant
travel by Members of Congress and their staff is an issue of long-standing
interest among some members of the public, media outlets, and Members.
Questions regarding the purposes and destinations of international travel
by Congress frequently arise, as do questions about the ability to track
the costs and benefits of such travel. There is no single source that identifies
all international travel undertaken by the House or Senate, and no means to
identify the number of trips taken, destinations visited, travelers, total
costs, or costs paid for by funds appropriated to government entities
other than Congress. This report provides information and analysis on the
use of foreign currency expended in support of congressional travel to international
destinations that is paid for with appropriated funds and authorized by the
House or Senate; on measures related to international travel by Congress
introduced in the 111th and 112th Congresses; and on potential options for
Congress related to international travel by Members and staff. This report
does not provide data on travel costs borne by executive agencies that support congressional
travel, as those data are not publicly available.
Under current law, the use of foreign currency in conjunction with
international travel by Congress must be disclosed. Those data were
tabulated, and suggest that the number of disclosures filed in both
chambers and expenditures have grown since 1993, but not in a consistent
manner suggesting a readily identifiable pattern of activity. It cannot be
determined from available data whether the increase is attributable to
increased travel or use of foreign currency, decreased utilization of
privately sponsored travel, or change in the manner in which the House or
Senate document their use of foreign currency through the disclosure process.
In the 112th Congress, legislation has been introduced to study and change the
manner in which such travel is authorized, funded, and disclosed. Measures
include H.R. 2340, introduced by Representative Mike Quigley; H.R. 638 and
H.R. 882, introduced by Representative Timothy V. Johnson; and S. 429,
introduced by Senator Claire McCaskill.
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