House members who had planned to travel to Louisiana next week for a tour and meetings on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill being organized by Rep. Steve Scalise won’t be able to tap their member accounts to cover the costs, the Republican congressman said he was told Tuesday.
The travel would appear to be to in the category of “general oversight” into an issue in which several committees have already been authorized for member visits to the Gulf Coast, said Kyle Anderson, spokesman for House Administration Committee Chairman Robert Brady, D-Pa. Such trips, Brady said, are “not eligible for payment from the financial accounts” that finance members’ offices. Brady’s committee decides on whether to allow congressional funding of trips.
Scalise said he was surprised that the House administration panel would deny compensation for a trip designed to help members understand the issues related to the Gulf disaster, especially given that they soon will vote on spill-related legislation.
“House Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi has the ability to approve this trip, but she’s decided to deny (payment for) this site visit,” Scalise said. “What is Speaker Pelosi afraid of?”
Far be it from me to recommend that politicians pay for something out of their own pockets, but what rule or regulation would prevent a few Republicans from just happening to take their 4th of July weekend vacations to the Gulf region and just happening to bump into Governor Jindal and a few of the parish presidents who are desperate for any kind of Federal interaction that isn’t worthy of a Keystone Cops short?
Politically it would be worth its weight in gold, and it also might be nice for some of the people in the Gulf to get a chance to vent their frustrations to somebody from Washington who takes the time to talk to them for more than 30 seconds.
It’s no secret why the Democrats don’t want Republicans to go to the Gulf region, but this is one instance where it would be worth it on so many levels for Republican members of Congress to reach into their own wallets and get down there — showing up with a truckload of Packgen containment boom would be a plus, too.