International travel by Members of Congress and their staffs is an issue of long-standing interest among the public, media outlets, and Members. Questions regarding the purposes, destinations, and costs of international travel by Congress frequently arise, as do questions about the ability to identify and monitor the costs and benefits of such travel. Travel in connection with official duties may be paid for with appropriated funds, or, in limited circumstances, be funded by a foreign government or private source, pursuant to House or Senate rules, or statute. There is no requirement mandating the disclosure of all international travel by Members of Congress or their staffs in a manner that provides complete, comparable records of trips taken, travelers, or costs. Depending on the source of funding, disclosure of international travel occurs in one of two ways. International travel paid for with appropriated funds is subject to limited disclosure, if foreign currency is used in conjunction with travel. International and domestic travel that is sponsored by a foreign government or private entity is subject to disclosure, including destinations, attendees, costs, itineraries, and identification of who is paying, pursuant to the requirements of House or Senate ethics rules. An overview of rules, regulations, and statutes governing congressional international travel paid by a foreign government and private entities is available from the House or Senate Ethics Committees’ websites. This report focuses on the disclosure of travel paid for with appropriated funds.
Date of Report: February 23, 2015
Order Number: IF10142
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