As congressional inaction brings the government closer to a shutdown, new gift reports show members of Congress were adept at taking advantage of last month's summer recess and receiving almost $1.7 million in free trips during the month of August.
During a paid monthlong summer recess, members of Congress reported receiving $1,668,928 in gifts of free travel, the largest monthly total since August 2011. The gifts covered the expenses of 130 trips by members during August. For the year, members of Congress have received $3,346,611 in free travel paid by outside organizations.
Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., reported receiving a $22,230 free trip to Dublin, Ireland, in August. His spouse went along and they stayed additional days at personal expense. Ten other members and some spouses went along. The trips were paid by the Franklin Center for Global Policy Exchange and the Ripon Society, who sponsored a conference on TransAtlantic Capital to Capital Exchange.
Rep. Ron Barber, D-Ariz., reported he and his spouse received a $20,021 free trip to Tel Aviv, Israel, in August. Sixty-two other Members and some spouses also received trips to Israel in August. The trips were paid for by the American Israel Foundation, who sponsored an education seminar.
Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., reported he and his spouse received a $17,478 free trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in August. Twenty-two other members and some spouses went on the trip. The trips were paid for by Aspen Institute who sponsored a conference on Africa's Emergence: Challenges and Opportunities for the United States.
Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, received a free $7,266 trip to Beijing, China, sponsored by the Corpus Christi Economic Development Corporation.
Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif., received a free $10,029 trip to Amman, Jordan, for a CARE-sponsored visit to refugee camps.
Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., received a free $5,675 trip to Istanbul, Turkey, sponsored by the Pacifica Institute.
Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., received a free $2,958 trip to Bogata, Columbia, sponsored by the Washington Office on Latin America.
The figures above does not include free travel provided to congressional staff.