If the frequency of congressional visits is any indication, Afghanistan is important to lawmakers — but then again, so are more traditional (and scenic) destinations like France, Spain and Ireland.
According to an impressive database of House member’s travel in 2012 constructed by the folks at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, war-torn Afghanistan was the most popular destination for lawmakers travelling abroad, getting 37 visits. But Spain got 30 — and perhaps unsurprisingly, members lingered there a bit longer, staying a total of 227 days, far longer than the 161 days they spent in Afghanistan. Hey, we understand — we hear the paella’s far better in sunny Spain.
And France and Ireland saw lawmakers 27 times each.
Hats off to the Herald Tribune for the grueling work of sifting through some 2,000 congressional travel records, which aren’t downloadable, to compile the data and assemble it into a nifty interactive map.
The newspaper also did some good analysis, including noting that some of the biggest travellers in the House were among those about to retire. Who says you need a gold watch when a little international trip will do?
Former representative David Dreier (R-Calif.) was the most travelled, according to the data, spending 58 days abroad in the year before he left Congress. And: “A month after returning from Monaco, Democrat Dennis Cardoza, also of California — who announced in 2011 he was leaving Congress — spent seven days in Ireland, Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal, then abruptly quit the House three days after returning to the U.S.,” the paper says.
The report concluded that the total 2012 travel tab was more than $1.5 million, but of course that figure doesn’t include the cost of military jets used for many of the jaunts.
Also of note was where the lawmaker didn’t go — as the paper noted, they didn’t once visit Iraq.