The Washington Post

Pols pay modest but perks are excellent

The Taj Mahal at dawn. (Maryann Haggerty)

And that doesn’t include some fine free travel, sometimes paid for by taxpayers — although House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) banned such travel in February — and sometimes paid for by think tanks and “public policy” groups.

We wrote earlier this month about a political kerfuffle surrounding a fine 12-day trip to India by a small congressional delegation (codel) led by Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.). (Seems the delegation invited the head of the Indian state of Gujarat to visit the United States — though he has been barred from the country since 2005 because of alleged human rights violations.)

The trip, which included meetings with business, government and opposition leaders as well as daily tours of museums, memorials, palaces and substantial free time, was paid for by the Chicago-based National Indian American Public Policy Institute.(NIAPPI)

Schock took two staffers— legislative director Mark Roman and chief of staff Steven Shearer — and GOP Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.) and Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.) took their spouses.

Now, if you and your spouse were to fly business class over there, that would set you back more than $7,000 apiece, based on disclosure forms filed by the members this week. Lodging and meals ran about $3,000 to $4,000 a person (less for McMorris Rodgers because the couple was there only five days) — though many meals were hosted by local organizations over there.

You get educated by NIAPPI, you tour, you schmooze, you dine, take photos and it’s all part of the job. So maybe it’s not so bad to be a House member.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.


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