CBS: You won’t believe the costs of Congressional junket to Copenhagen
posted at 10:55 am on January 26, 2010 by Ed Morrissey
How much did the US spend on the trip to the Copenhagen conference on global warming? Enough to melt a Himalayan glacier — and that’s just for the Congressional delegation. The total cost of the 106 people traveling under the aegis of Congress came to over $400,000 for two days in Denmark, thanks to a $2200 per-person, per-day rate at the Marriott. CBS News reports that no one wants to talk about the massive bill in light of American economic troubles:
Thanks to recently filed Congressional expense reports there’s new light shed on the Copenhagen Climate Summit in Denmark and how much it cost taxpayers.
CBS News Investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports official filings and our own investigation show at least 106 people from the House and Senate attended – spouses, a doctor, a protocol expert and even a photographer.
For 15 Democratic and 6 Republican Congressmen, food and rooms for two nights cost $4,406 tax dollars each. That’s $2,200 a day – more than most Americans spend on their monthly mortgage payment.
Attkisson plunges the dagger when she reports Nancy Pelosi’s official response to the story (emphasis mine):
Pelosi’s office did offer an explanation for the high room charges. Those who stayed just two nights were charged a six-night minimum at the five-star Marriott. One staffer said, they strongly objected to no avail. You may ask how they’ll negotiate a climate treaty, if they can’t get a better deal on hotel rooms.
In the event, they didn’t, of course.
When the travel expenses get added, the bill comes up to over $1.1 million. Commercial flights cost $5000 each, and the three military jets cost even more, around $168,000 for the flight time. This begs the question as to why Congress sent a delegation at all, and certainly one that large. After all, Congress does not negotiate treaties. The Constitution specifically assigns that task to the executive branch. Barack Obama had a legitimate reason for attending, although the premise of the conference is highly questionable. If he wanted to take a couple of Congressional leaders for advisers, that would have been his choice.
But we’re not talking about a couple of Congressional leaders. Among the attendees were:
- Nancy Pelosi’s husband
- James Sensenbrenner’s wife
- Ed Markey’s wife
- Charlie Rangel (Ways and Means??)
- Joe Barton’s daughter
- Jay Inslee’s wife
- Shelley Moore Capito’s husband
- Gabrielle Giffords’ husband
- 31 “unnamed Senate staff” on top of dozens of named staffers
Why did the Ways and Means chair need to go to Copenhagen? For that matter, why did most of these Senators and Representatives need to go on the public dime?
And most gallingly, why were spouses and family given a trip to Copenhagen on the public dime? When people travel on business in the private sector, they pay for their spouses and family on the rare occasions they accompany the employee. Those expenses are not tax deductible, either. We do not need to pay for family vacations, especially at a time when most Americans have to curtail their own vacation spending because of the economic hardship in the US at the moment.
Jammie Wearing Fool has more thoughts.