Hurry, hurry, hurry. Congress will begin its 2009 travel season in earnest this weekend with two spectacular codels -- trips for House congressional delegations -- that are not to be missed.
On Saturday, Rep. John Tanner (D-Tenn.), chairman of the House delegation to NATO's parliamentary assembly, and his wife will lead a delegation of 13 lawmakers -- plus 10 spouses -- on a fine nine-day jaunt starting at NATO's headquarters in Brussels.
The huge number of members, spouses and staffers, plus military escorts, will require taking one of the bigger military jets, but we're told these trips are an important use of taxpayer money.
No, of course he has no obvious legislative reason to go. As Dave Evans further notes:
Bart Gordon serves as the Chairman of the Science and Technology Committee, which has jurisdiction over non-defense related research and development (R&D) at a number of federal agencies, including the Department of Energy (DOE), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Science Foundation (NSF), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. He serves as senior member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, which is responsible for regulating the quality of the air Americans breathe, cleaning up toxic waste sites, providing health care to children and senior citizens, protecting the safety of our food and drugs to promoting a vibrant telecommunications industry and preventing fraud in our financial markets.He also serves as a member of the Subcommittee on Health and member of the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet.
Dave then goes on to make a few pointed comments about how he tended to fly coach when he got to go abroad.
Now, it's perfectly understandable why Gordon thought that he could go off to Paris and Vienna: he's a twelve-term Congressman with a respectable committee chair, isn't he? That's hard work; surely the voters understand that he's entitled to one measly little European ski trip, even if his Party is planning to put the screws to all those Tennessee 'foreign' auto plants. Mind you, you have to assume that: Gordon isn't talking about this. Red County, again:
The usually politically deft Gordon has compounded the problem by failing to provide any public communication about his trip to Europe. No statement from his office, no press release to the local press. And calls to his office have apparently yielded the obligatory "we have been instructed not to comment on the Congressman's schedule."
Gordon himself and his office have made no public comment about this purported trip to Europe. Other reports in the press have him in Europe now, but it's a fact that simply cannot be confirmed with the stonewalling Congressman's office. You would think that it would be in the Congressman's best interests to disclose the truth of his whereabouts and activities, no matter what that truth might be.
Or he just doesn't think that it's worth addressing. After all, don't his fellow-Democrats routinely note that the American people don't care about pork? You gotta love these two-America types that make up the Democratic elite these days.
PS: Not to depress our lurkers: but John Boozman's on Foreign Affairs; Jeff Miller is both Armed Services and Veteran's Affairs; and Jo Ann Emerson is chair of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Committee on the Civil Dimension of Security. Which is not to say that they probably aren't going to be adverse to a little skiing, either - but at least they're probably up to get some actual work done during this trip.
Well, maybe Bart Gordon can be in charge of the coffeepot.
Crossposted to Moe Lane.