A Republican congressman is proposing legislation that would require the government to publicly reveal how much money it costs when a member of Congress uses military airplanes on taxpayer-funded trips overseas.
In an interview with The Daily Caller on Monday, North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones said his “Congressional Foreign Travel Cost Disclosure Act” is needed because he’s concerned that some congressional delegation trips (CODELS) are wasteful.
“Now let me be clear about it,” Jones told TheDC, “I’m all for visiting the troops, whether it be Afghanistan or Iraq, or some other country. But too many of these trips, in my opinion, are not that necessary and if they are that necessary, all we’re saying is that the people — the taxpayers — should be able to find out the cost of that trip.”
Jones recalled that he was outraged after learning several months ago of a recent CODEL to Australia that cost taxpayers $400,000. The cost of the trip led him to complain directly to House Speaker John Boehner.
“That’s when I wrote John Boehner a letter, and I said to John Boehner that he should say to all members of the House, no CODELs during this economic problem facing this country unless you’re going to visit the troops in Afghanistan or Iraq,” Jones said.
According to the text of Jones’ bill, the legislation would “require the secretary of defense to determine and disclose the cost of any transportation provided by the secretary to members, officers, or employees of the House of Representatives or Senate who are carrying out official duties outside the United States, and for other purposes.”
The law would require the Defense Department to detail the transportation costs no later than 10 days after the trip to the House or Senate Armed Services committee. The cost would also be made public on the secretary of defense’s website.
The bill makes exceptions for representatives who are visiting troops in a war zone or at a United States military installation.
Jones, who has pushed similar legislation in the past, introduced the bill last month. It was referred to the House Armed Services committee, where he’s hopeful the bill will get attention.
“I would be delighted to explain to my colleagues why it’s important that the taxpayers have an idea how their money is being spent,” he said.
“If a member of Congress thinks he or she can explain the trip, that’s fine,” he said.
“But I know from several years ago when I got involved in this thing, it’s almost impossible to find out the cost to the Department of Defense for providing airplanes and military escorts,” Jones continued. “I just think that’s wrong.”