< Back to H.Res. 424 (105th Congress, 1997–1998)

Text of Comprehensive Travel Reform Rule of 1998

This resolution was introduced on May 7, 1998, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. The text of the bill below is as of May 7, 1998 (Introduced).

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HRES 424 IH

105th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. RES. 424

Requiring members, officers, and employees of the House of Representatives to submit reports on travel to the Clerk of the House which include information on the source of funds used to pay for such travel, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

May 7, 1998

Mr. HAMILTON (for himself, Mr. COX of California, Mr. VISCLOSKY, and Mr. CAMPBELL) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on House Oversight, and in addition to the Committee on Rules, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned


RESOLUTION

Requiring members, officers, and employees of the House of Representatives to submit reports on travel to the Clerk of the House which include information on the source of funds used to pay for such travel, and for other purposes.

    Resolved,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This resolution may be cited as the ‘Comprehensive Travel Reform Rule of 1998’.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    The House makes the following findings:

      (1) The duties of Members of Congress require knowledge of a broad range of domestic and foreign issues. Domestic and foreign travel can greatly enhance a Member’s knowledge, improving the quality of legislation and congressional oversight. At the same time, the lack of personal travel experience can be a valid consideration in evaluating a Member’s views on foreign policy and security issues.

      (2) Congressional travel has many concrete benefits. Domestic travel can improve a Member’s understanding of the impact government policies have on a particular region or group of citizens. Such travel can also increase public awareness and knowledge of issues before Congress.

      (3) Foreign travel by Members of Congress can advance United States national interests. A Congress that engages in no foreign travel is unequipped to handle the many challenges facing the United States. Travel increases the foreign policy expertise of all Members, who must vote regularly on programs and issues that commit significant United States resources abroad. Travel alerts Members to United States foreign trade opportunities. Some trips have saved millions of taxpayer dollars by exposing wasteful programs at home and abroad. Firsthand experience has inspired Members to improve the safety and quality of life of United States military and civilian personnel serving abroad. Members have frequently promoted United States interests by calling attention to human rights abuses or environmental dangers during their travel.

      (4) Travel by Members improves foreign understanding of the views of Congress, as well as of the unique and important role Congress plays in formulating United States policy. Members who do not represent the administration directly are often able to say things that United States diplomats cannot. Congressional travel builds important personal relationships with United States allies, and interparliamentary exchanges promote democracy by encouraging foreign legislators.

      (5) Members should share their travel experiences with the House and the general public. Whenever possible, these statements should include policy recommendations based on such travel.

      (6) Abuses of foreign and domestic travel waste taxpayer dollars, increase the influence of special interests, and undermine public confidence in Congress. Abuses discourage Members from taking important, legitimate travel and diminish the ability of Congress to act effectively in many areas.

      (7) Congress has a responsibility to try to eliminate all abuses of travel, while also encouraging Members to take travel that enhances the ability of Congress to advance the interests of the United States.

      (8) Members have a personal responsibility to ensure that their travel not only complies with detailed travel rules but reflects creditably on the House of Representatives (Rule XLIII.1).

      (9) Each Member should endeavor to travel on a periodic basis to inspect important government activities at home and abroad.

SEC. 3. REQUIRING REPORTS ON TRAVEL.

    (a) IN GENERAL- Each Member, officer, and employee of the House of Representatives shall submit to the Clerk of the House of Representatives a report on the following categories of travel undertaken by the Member, officer, or employee:

      (1) Travel for which payment is made from the Members’ representational allowance or from the accounts of a committee or other office of the House, other than travel undertaken by a Member (or by an employee of the Member or an employee of a committee on which the Member is the chair or ranking minority member) between the district the Member represents and the District of Columbia.

      (2) Travel within a foreign country for which payment is made by the government of a foreign country.

      (3) Travel in support of the official business of the Member, officer, or employee for which payment is made from any source not described in paragraph (1) or (2).

    (b) INFORMATION CONTAINED IN REPORT-

      (1) IN GENERAL- Each report submitted under subsection (a) shall contain the following information:

        (A) An identification of the individual or entity paying for the travel described in the report.

        (B) A substantive report on the relation of the travel to the official business of the House, including findings and recommendations. Individuals traveling in groups may submit a joint report, which may include separate minority or additional views. Each report submitted under this subparagraph shall include a detailed itinerary of all meetings, interviews, inspection tours, and other official functions in which the individual involved participated, except that the Clerk may withhold from publication certain information contained in the report if the individual certifies that disclosure of the information would--

          (i) be detrimental to the national security interests of the United States;

          (ii) pose a threat of harm or reprisal to an individual or group;

          (iii) endanger the confidentiality of sources or methods of intelligence or law enforcement operation or activity; or

          (iv) compromise or hamper a committee investigation or oversight function.

        (C) In the case of travel described in subsection (a)(3) for which transportation is provided by the Department of Defense, an estimate of the amount which would have been paid if the transportation had been provided through commercial sources.

        (D) In the case of travel described in subsection (a)(2), an estimate of the expenses incurred for which payment was made by the foreign government involved.

        (E) In the case of travel described in subsection (a)(3) (other than travel for which payment is made by the Federal Government), such information as the Member, officer, or employee may reasonably ascertain on the source of the funds used by the individual or entity to pay for the travel (together with any information required under paragraph (2)).

      (2) SPECIFIC INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR TRAVEL PAID FOR BY CERTAIN NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS- In the case of travel described in subsection (a)(3) which is paid for (in whole or in part) by an organization exempt from Federal tax under section 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, the Member, officer, or employee shall include in the report submitted under subsection (a)--

        (A) a copy of the form filed by the organization with the Internal Revenue Service which summarizes the organization’s contributions and expenditures; and

        (B) a copy of the schedule of contributions filed by the organization with the Internal Revenue Service which lists all contributions of

$5,000 or more received by the organization during a taxable year.

    (c) DEADLINE-

      (1) IN GENERAL- A Member, officer, or employee shall submit the report required under this section not later than 30 days after the completion of the travel involved.

      (2) CONFORMING AMENDMENTS-

        (A) COMMITTEE TRAVEL EXPENSES- Clause 2(n)(1)(B) of rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives is amended by striking the second sentence.

        (B) GIFT BAN- Clause 2(a)(1)(B) of rule LI of the Rules of the House of Representatives is amended to read as follows:

      ‘(B) meets the applicable reporting requirements with respect to the expenses under the rules of the House of Representatives.’.

    (d) REPORTS TO COMMITTEE ON STANDARDS OF OFFICIAL CONDUCT ON LATE FILINGS- The Clerk shall notify the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct of any Member, officer, or employee who submits a report required under this section after the expiration of the applicable deadline, or who submits a report which otherwise fails to meet the requirements of this section.

    (e) MEMBER DEFINED- In this section, the term ‘Member’ includes any Resident Commissioner or Delegate to the Congress.

SEC. 4. COMPILATION AND PUBLICATION OF REPORTS ON TRAVEL.

    (a) QUARTERLY REPORTS- Not later than 45 days after the end of each calendar quarter, the Clerk of the House of Representatives shall compile all reports submitted under section 3 for the quarter and submit such compilation for publication in the Congressional Record.

    (b) ANNUAL REPORTS- Not later than 90 days after the end of each session of a Congress, the Clerk of the House of Representatives, in consultation with the Committee on House Oversight, shall publish a report containing the following information:

      (1) A summary of the total amount of travel described in section 3(a) which is undertaken by Members, officers, and employees of the House during the session, including the total amount expended for travel described in paragraph (1) of such section and the percentage such total amount represents of all expenditures of the House during the session.

      (2) A summary of the foreign travel described in section 3(a) which is undertaken by Members, officers, and employees during the session.

    (c) REQUIRING POSTING OF REPORTS ON INTERNET- The compilation of reports required under subsection (a) and the reports published under subsection (b) shall be posted on the Internet upon completion in a manner that permits any member of the public to obtain such compilation and report at any time. For purposes of this subsection, the term ‘Internet’ means the international computer network of both Federal and non-Federal interoperable packet-switched data networks.

SEC. 5. ADDITIONAL RESTRICTIONS ON TRAVEL.

    (a) LIMITATION ON AMOUNT EXPENDED ON TRAVEL PAID BY PRIVATE SOURCES- No Member, officer, or employee of the House of Representatives may accept any travel described in section 3(a)(3) for which--

      (1) first class airfare is provided; or

      (2) the total costs of meals and lodging exceed the amount of the maximum per diem rate set forth in applicable Federal law for other employees of the Federal Government.

    (b) RESTRICTIONS ON PRIVATELY-FUNDED GIFTS FOR SPOUSE OR FAMILY MEMBER TRAVEL- Clause 2(d)(4) of rule LI of the Rules of the House of Representatives is amended by striking the period at the end and inserting the following: ‘, but only if the travel is not offered or enhanced because of the official position of the Member, officer, or employee and is customarily provided to others in similar circumstances.’.

    (c) CLARIFICATION OF PER DIEM LIMIT APPLICABLE TO COMMITTEE TRAVEL- Clause 2(n)(1)(A) of rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives is amended by striking ‘applicable Federal law’ and inserting ‘applicable Federal law for employees of the Federal Government who are not Members, officers, or employees of the House of Representatives’.

    (d) REQUIRING ADVANCE AUTHORIZATION FOR COSTS EXCEEDING PUBLISHED PER DIEM RATES FOR OTHER FEDERAL EMPLOYEES- Notwithstanding any other rule or regulation of the House of Representatives, the total amount which may be expended for travel described in section 3(a) by a Member, officer, or employee of the House of Representatives on a day may not exceed the published per diem rate applicable for employees of the Federal Government who are not Members, officers, or employees of the House of Representatives unless the Member or officer involved authorizes the expenditure of a greater amount prior to the occurrence of the travel.

    (e) REQUIRING ADVANCE AUTHORIZATION FOR ALL OFFICIAL TRAVEL PAID BY PRIVATE SOURCES-

      (1) IN GENERAL- No Member, officer, or employee of the House of Representatives may accept

any travel described in section 3(a)(3) (other than travel for which payment is made by the Federal Government) unless the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct has authorized the acceptance of the travel prior to the commencement of the travel.

      (2) SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS FOR AUTHORIZATION FOR EMPLOYEE TRAVEL- In the case of travel of an employee, the advance authorization required under paragraph (1) shall include--

        (A) the name of the employee;

        (B) the name of the person who will reimburse the employee for the travel;

        (C) the time, place, and purpose of the travel; and

        (D) a determination that the travel is in connection with the duties of the employee as an officeholder and would not create the appearance that the employee is using public office for private gain.

      (3) STANDARDS FOR REVIEW- In determining whether to authorize a Member, officer, or employee to accept travel under paragraph (1), the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct shall examine--

        (A) whether the person paying for the travel has a direct interest in any Federal legislation and (if so) whether the acceptance of the travel will have an adverse impact on the integrity of the legislative process, taking into consideration public perceptions; and

        (B) whether the acceptance of the travel is prohibited under this resolution (or the amendments made by this resolution) or is otherwise prohibited under the Rules of the House of Representatives.

      (4) CONFORMING AMENDMENT RELATING TO GIFT BAN- Clause 2 of rule LI of the Rules of the House of Representatives is amended--

        (A) by amending paragraph (a)(1)(A) to read as follows:

      ‘(A) meets the applicable requirements for advance authorization under the rules of the House of Representatives, and’; and

        (B) by striking paragraph (b).

SEC. 6. REGULATIONS.

    Not later than 90 days after the adoption of this resolution, the Committee on House Oversight, in consultation with the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, shall issue regulations to carry out this resolution, together with guidelines for activities undertaken by Members, officers, and employees while on official travel, including recommendations on the appropriate balance of time spent on official and non-official business and on appropriate meetings and activities while traveling in foreign nations.

SEC. 7. EFFECTIVE DATE.

    This resolution shall apply with respect to calendar quarters beginning after the expiration of the 30-day period which begins on the date of the adoption of this resolution, except that the requirement that a Member, officer, or employee of the House of Representatives file the information described in section 3(b)(2)(B) shall apply with respect to calendar quarters beginning after the first taxable year which begins after the date of the adoption of this resolution.