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May 8, 2013

Civic Groups Call for Transparency in the High Costs of Using Military Aircraft for Congressional Travel

Groups Encourage Passage of Foreign Travel Cost Disclosure Act

WASHINGTON. D.C. – In a letter sent today, several reform organizations urged members of Congress to co-sponsor and support passage of the Foreign Travel Cost Disclosure Act (H.R. 1359), introduced by U.S. Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), in order to bring more transparency to the costs of elected officials’ taxpayer-funded travel.

The organizations include Campaign Legal Center, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Common Cause, Democracy 21, Public Citizen and U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG).

According to the letter:

“This measure would bring important transparency to both lawmakers and the public of the cost of using military aircraft for official congressional travel. It does not impede such travel in any way, nor does it impose any restrictions on the use of military aircraft for congressional travel. Instead, H.R. 1359 would require that the Secretary of Defense provide an estimate of the cost of the use of military aircraft to those involved in the official travel. … The cost would also be made public on the Secretary’s web site.”

The groups note that congressional travel by military aircraft is usually far more expensive than commercial travel, but at the same time, safety and convenience often makes such travel necessary. However, lawmakers and staff are often unaware of the cost of using military aircraft, which is not reported to Congress or the public.

The letter continues:

“In this era of fiscal restraint, which also has dramatically impacted the military, it is important that Members and staff be informed of these costs in order to determine whether the use of military aircraft is the most cost effective means of transportation.”

The letter concludes:

“Our organizations urge swift passage of H.R. 1359. This is a measure that all parties should be able to agree upon.”

To read the coalition letter, go to: http://www.citizen.org/documents/coalition-letter-foreign-travel-cost-disclosure-act.pdf

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