Some think Congress is a hostile environment, but two dozen representatives recently traveled in congressional delegations to a real hostile environment in Afghanistan.
Committees of Congress often send members of Congress and staff on government-paid travel to foreign destinations that may help educate members on legislative matters coming before their committee. During the second quarter of 2013, standing committees of Congress have spent $1.2 million on official foreign travel. This figure is higher than normal because Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, now requires members to travel by commercial airlines and report the appropriate costs. When military air transport was used for trips in earlier quarters, no cost figure was disclosed.
The top three committees taking trips were the Foreign Affairs Committee ($396,629), the Armed Services Committee ($324,627), and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence ($222,645). The Small Business Committee reported the costliest trip — $23,795 for Rep. Steve King's, R-Iowa, May 28 to June 3 trip to Russia.
Traveling to Afghanistan in the second quarter for various committees were Reps. Ami Bera, D-Calif.; Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash.; Michael Burgess, R-Texas; Joe Courtney, D-Conn.; Susan Davis, D-Calif.; Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.; Bill Enyart, D-Ill.; Bill Flores, R-Texas; Lois Frankel, D-Fla.; Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii; Pete Gallego, D-Texas; Denny Heck, D-Wash.; Joseph P. Kennedy III, D-Mass.; Dan Kildee, D-Mich.; Kristi Noem, R-S.D.; Tom Rice, R-S.C.; Martha Roby, R-Ala.; Mike D. Rogers, R-Ala.; Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.; Niki Tsongas, D-Mass.; Rob Wittman, R-Va.; Jackie Walorski, R-Ind.; Joe Wilson, R-S.C.; and Del. Madeleine Z. Bordallo, D-Guam.