Congress' $1 Million Junket -- 100 People Going To Paris Air Show On Taxpayers' Tab
WASHINGTON - U.S. taxpayers could end up paying more than $1 million to send a 100-person congressional delegation on a 10-day trip to Paris in June to watch an international air show, according to a report published today.
Washington Times reported the group - composed of members of Congress, their spouses, aides and others - will travel in Air Force jets and may stay at a Paris hotel where room rates start at about $300 per night.
The military flights alone are expected to cost between $49,959 to $71,351 to fly one-way on a C-137, a military version of a Boeing 707, the newspaper reported.
The cost for the group, using three planes, is expected to cost between $300,000 and $428,106, the paper said, citing unnamed Defense Department officials.
The Defense and State departments also have ordered officials at the U.S. embassy in Paris to reserve 80 rooms at the luxurious Meridian Hotel for the delegation. The rooms cost between $298 and $325 per day, for a bill of between $298,000 and $325,000 for the 10-day stay.
An additional $400,000 will be spent on "per diem" expenses, the newspaper reported.
News of the junket comes as the White House is reviewing its travel policy after revelations that White House chief of staff John Sununu used military aircraft for more than 70 job-related and personal trips in the past two years.
The Times reported the junket will tentatively include members of the House Public Works and Transportation Committee, the House and Senate Armed Services panels, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the House and Senate Appropriations panels.
It was not clear if all members of those panels would travel on the junket. Three members of the Washington state delegation belong to the committees: Democratic Sen. Brock Adams, Republican Sen. Slade Gorton and Democratic Rep. Norm Dicks. The senators' staffs said both were invited but are not going; Dicks hasn't decided, his spokesman said.
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