NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 12, 2010

Few would argue with the U.S. having a presence at the Copenhagen Climate Summit.  That is until you learn how many members of Congress got all-expense paid trips to Denmark on your dime, says CBS News.

Cameras spotted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the summit.  She called the shots on who got to go. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and embattled Chairman of the Tax Committee Charles Rangel were also there.  They were joined by 17 colleagues: Democrats: Waxman, Miller, Markey, Gordon, Levin, Blumenauer, DeGette, Inslee, Ryan, Butterfield, Cleaver, Giffords, and Republicans: Barton, Upton, Moore Capito, Sullivan, Blackburn and Sensenbrenner.

Senator Inhofe (R-Okla.) attended the summit on his own for just a few hours, to give an opposing view.  "They're going because it's the biggest party of the year," Sen. Inhofe said.  "The worst thing that happened there is they ran out of caviar."

  • The congressional delegation was so large, it needed three military jets: two 737's and a Gulfstream Five -- up to 64 passengers -- traveling in luxurious comfort.
  • Add senators and staff, most of whom flew commercial, and there were at least 101 Congress-related attendees; all for a summit that failed to deliver a global climate deal.
  • As a perk, some took spouses, since they could snag an open seat on a military jet or share a room at no extra cost to taxpayers.

How much did they spend?

  • Three military jets at $9,900 per hour - $168,000 just in flight time.
  • Dozens flew commercial at up to $2,000 each.
  • 321 hotel nights booked - the bulk at Copenhagen's five-star Marriott.
  • Meals add tens of thousands more.

Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense, wasn't against a U.S. presence.  But he said, "Every penny counts.  Congress should be shaking the couch cushions looking for change, rather than spending cash for everybody to go to Copenhagen."

And all those attendees who went to the summit rather than hooking up by teleconference?  They produced enough climate-stunting carbon dioxide to fill 10,000 Olympic swimming pools.  Which means even if Congress didn't get a global agreement - they left an indelible footprint all the same, says CBS News.

Source: Sharyl Attkisson, "Copenhagen Summit Turned Junket? Exclusive: At Least 20 Members of Congress Made the Trip to Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen Last Month," CBS News, January 11, 2010.

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