House GOP won’t ease members’ travel rules

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WASHINGTON — The Republican majority taking over the House of Representatives next year expects to keep in place rules that restrict lawmakers from taking far-flung trips on a private company’s tab, a spokesman for incoming GOP Speaker John Boehner said.

The rule, approved by Democrats in 2007 as part of a broad series of ethics changes, prohibits lawmakers from taking long trips paid for by groups that employ lobbyists. Some watchdog groups, such as Public Citizen, had questioned whether Republicans would retain the rule or toss it.

“There are no plans to undo the ban on private travel,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel told USA TODAY.

Determining what to do with the prohibition is one slice of a still-emerging ethics plan for Republicans, who won at least 62 seats and control of the House in the midterm election Nov. 2. Boehner, who represents western Ohio, has also pushed a ban on pet projects directed by lawmakers, known as earmarks.

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