Morning Business: Warning on Filings

Posted September 24, 2008 at 6:33pm

In an apparent fit of frustration over the inability of Members and staff to file their paperwork on time, the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct is changing its rules for approving privately funded Congressional travel.

[IMGCAP(1)]Current rules require Members and staff to submit requests for approval of privately funded travel 30 days before the trip occurs, but in a tart new guidance issued Tuesday, the committee noted that “many members and staff have continued to submit pre-trip approval requests far short of that guideline, often only a day or two prior to the start of the trip in question.”

There is for the most part no reason for this delay, the committee wrote, other than “a failure to submit the request in a timely fashion.”

The committee has therefore established new rules requiring that all trip requests be submitted 14 days before the proposed travel, but that is a firm deadline. The only exception will be for Members receiving a “last minute request from a media outlet” to travel for an interview.

For any trip that cannot meet these deadlines, the committee notes, the traveller can still go, provided they can find another appropriate source to pay for it — such as the Member’s office account, the campaign account or the Member’s own pocket.

It sounds like they mean it this time.