President Obama and Vice President Biden have been to the Gulf Coast on the taxpayers’ dime to see the damage of the oil spill on what seem like countless occasions, but it appears that a Congressional delegation wishing to get a look of their own won’t qualify. And the leader of that delegation, Louisiana congressman Steve Scalise, is hopping mad about it.
The delegation, which includes Scalise, eight other Republican House members and Mississippi Democrat Gene Taylor, applied to the House Administration Committee to use their member accounts to pay for the trip, which was to take place on July 9 and include a tour of oil-damaged wetlands and outer islands, as well as a briefing by the Unified Command and a trip to Grand Isle. The request was, suspiciously to Scalise, denied.
“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?”
The House Administration Committee, chaired by Robert Brady, D-Pa., kiboshed the use of member accounts for the trip because it came under the ambit of “general oversight,” which means it falls in the same category as junkets to Vegas or Boca Raton. To qualify for public funding, such a trip would have to be sponsored by individual House committees – all of which are run by Pelosi’s Democrat minions – or the House GOP leadership.
Scalise isn’t alone in not buying that explanation. Dan Lungren (R-CA), the ranking Republican on House Administration, said that outside of “some extraordinary reason to prohibit this trip” that no Republican has been informed of, “this is an unacceptable departure from past practices.” House Republicans say Brady approved a dozen such trips last year, according to POLITICO – something the Democrats don’t deny.
“This is an educational trip for members using their own representational budgets to see, firsthand, the devastating impact of the Gulf spill,” Lungren said. “Our travel regulations permit this type of travel in support of our official representational duties, and unfortunately, this disaster is already having environmental and economical implications for the entire country, not just those districts represented by members sitting on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.”
It seems difficult to believe, given the growing scandal over the horrendous federal response to the spill, that this incident isn’t partisan. And when Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill let fly with this quote, which seems to contradict the action taken by Brady…
“Every Member should see the result of eight years of failed Bush-Cheney energy policies that have done nothing to secure our energy future,” said Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill.
…it’s not much of a leap to conclude that Pelosi is trying to deny Scalise and other GOP Congressmen the ability to speak about the spill and the efforts to stop it from first-hand knowledge.