Diving on Australia's Great Barrier Reef, waking up in a plush hotel in Waikiki and spending New Years Eve in Christchurch watching fire works. All part of the job for members of Congress who went on a fact finding mission to investigate climate change.
According to The Wall Street Journal, their six spouses went along as well. The total bill for US taxpayers: more than $500,000. The Congressmen told the paper they were doing it hard, particularly when they had to do a stint visiting the South Pole.
As Ed Phillips in the Right Rant blog says, it does pose some obvious questions: "Isn't it funny how politicians' fact-finding missions always seem to include stopovers at Hawaii, New Zealand, Paris, The Great Barrier Reef, etc.? Who here thinks it's a coincidence that "fact-finding" trips are almost always to popular and expensive vacation spots?"
And the failed experiment blog says something should be done legally to stop unlimited travel by members of Congress.
No, there is nothing wrong with fact finding missions. But in these straitened times when everyone is doing it tough, lawmakers should show some constraint. Half a billion dollars for a junket is too much.