Spending by Congress on taxpayer-funded trips overseas is nearly ten times what it was in 1995 and triple the amount spent in 2001, the Wall Street Journal finds in an analysis of some 60,000 travel records. Last year, hundreds of members of Congress went abroad at a cost of some $13 million. Lawmakers defend the use of tax dollars, saying the trips give them a chance to improve their understanding of the world, check on US assets, and improve their own working relationships.
But the Journal's analysis found that families often get to tag along to destinations like Jamaica, the Virgin Islands, and Australia's Great Barrier Reef. And while there were 113 trips to Iraq last year, little is spent in war zones—but expenses can be incurred along the way: In February Nancy Pelosi, seven lawmakers, and their families spent 8 days—and $57,697—in Italy before heading to Afghanistan for a day.