H.R. 4289 (112th): Transparency and Accountability in Congressional Travel Act of 2012

112th Congress, 2011–2013. Text as of Mar 28, 2012 (Introduced).

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I

112th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 4289

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

March 28, 2012

introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on House Administration

A BILL

To enhance the disclosure of information on official foreign travel of Members and employees of Congress, to impose additional restrictions on such travel, and for other purposes.

1.

Short Title

This Act may be cited as the Transparency and Accountability in Congressional Travel Act of 2012.

2.

Enhanced Disclosure of Member and Staff Travel

(a)

Reporting Requirements for Official Foreign Travel by Members and Employees

(1)

Statement Required Prior to Undertaking Travel

A Member or employee of Congress may not undertake any official foreign travel unless, not later than 14 days prior to the date on which the travel begins, the Member or employee prepares and submits to the Clerk of the House of Representatives (in the case of a Member or employee of the House) or the Secretary of the Senate (in the case of a Senator or employee of the Senate) a statement containing the following information:

(A)

The name and position of the Member or employee involved, and (in the case of an employee) the employing office.

(B)

The office authorizing the travel.

(C)

A statement of worthiness regarding the purpose of the travel, including a description of how the travel relates to the Member’s or employee’s official duties.

(D)

A tentative itinerary for each day of the travel, including a list of the foreign nations and the locations within each such nation the Member or employee intends to visit and any individuals with whom the Member or employee intends to meet.

(E)

The names of any other individuals who are accompanying the Member or employee during the travel, without regard to whether such individuals are Members or employees of the House.

(F)

The amount of per diem the Member or employee requested to be provided for the travel, and whether the amount is greater than the standard per diem provided under chapter 57 of title 5, United States Code.

(G)

A statement as to whether the aircraft to be used for transportation for the travel is commercial, chartered, private, or military), and (in the case of commercial aircraft) whether the seating is coach, business class, or first class.

(H)

The Member’s or employee’s best estimate of the costs of the travel, itemized by the costs of transportation, meals, and lodging.

(I)

If any portion of the cost of the travel will be paid using appropriated funds other than funds of the House of Representatives or Senate (including funds of the Department of Defense or the Department of State), the name of the office which is the source of such funds.

(2)

Statement Required After Completion of Travel

Not later than 14 days after completing any official foreign travel, the Member or employee who undertook the travel shall prepare and submit to the Clerk of the House of Representatives (in the case of a Member or employee of the House) or the Secretary of the Senate (in the case of a Senator or employee of the Senate) a statement containing the following information:

(A)

The name and position of the Member or employee involved, and (in the case of an employee) the employing office.

(B)

The office authorizing the travel.

(C)

A statement detailing the value, worthiness, and educational benefit to the Member or employee of the travel.

(D)

The actual itinerary for the travel, including a comprehensive statement of travel times, foreign nations visited and the locations visited in each such nation, meetings, and other activities carried out during the travel.

(E)

The names of any other individuals who did accompany the Member or employee during the travel, without regard to whether such individuals are Members or employees of the House.

(F)

How much (if any) per diem was provided for the travel and how much (if any) of such per diem was unspent.

(G)

A statement as to whether the aircraft used for transportation for the travel was commercial, chartered, private, or military), and (in the case of commercial aircraft) whether the seating was coach, business class, or first class.

(H)

The actual cost of the travel, itemized by the costs of—

(i)

transportation (including the identification of the providers of the transportation);

(ii)

lodging (including the identification of the providers of the lodging); and

(iii)

meals (including the identification of the providers of the meals).

(I)

If any portion of the cost of the travel was paid (or will be paid) using appropriated funds other than funds of the House of Representatives or Senate (including funds of the Department of Defense or the Department of State), the name of the office which is the source of such funds and the amount of the payment which is (or which will be) attributable to such office.

(3)

Exception for classified Information

A Member or employee may exclude from a statement prepared under this subsection any information which is classified, so long as the Member includes documentation in support of the exclusion in the statement prepared under this subsection.

(4)

Use of electronic filing

To the greatest extent practicable, a Member or employee shall submit the statements required under this section in both paper and electronic form.

(b)

Determination and disclosure of costs incurred by secretary of defense or secretary of state

In the case of official foreign travel of a Member or employee of Congress for which any of the costs are to be paid by funds of the Department of Defense or the Department of State, the Secretary of Defense or the Secretary of State (as the case may be) shall, not later than 10 days after completion of the travel involved, provide the Member or employee with a written statement containing the following information:

(1)

The cost incurred with respect to the Member or employee, itemized by the cost of transportation, lodging, and meals.

(2)

A statement as to whether the aircraft used for transportation for the travel was commercial, chartered, private, or military), and (in the case of commercial aircraft) whether the seating was coach, business class, or first class.

(3)

Such other information as the Member or employee may request in order to enable the Member or employee to prepare and submit the statement required under subsection (a)(2).

(c)

Internet posting of Reports

Upon receiving a statement under subsection (a) with respect to official foreign travel of a Member or employee of Congress, the Clerk of the House of Representatives or the Secretary of the Senate (as the case may be) shall post the statement on the Clerk’s or Secretary’s official public Internet site in a searchable, sortable, and downloadable manner.

3.

Other restrictions on official foreign travel of members and staff

(a)

Prohibiting Vacation Stopovers During Travel

A Member or employee of Congress may not undertake a vacation stopover for annual leave at any point during official foreign travel.

(b)

Restrictions on Travel by Employees

(1)

Travel by Employees of Members

An employee of Congress whose employing office is the office of a Member of Congress may not undertake any official foreign travel unless—

(A)

the authorizing office for the travel is the office of the Member;

(B)

the travel is undertaken by the employee to accompany the Member on the Member’s own official foreign travel; and

(C)

no other employee of the office accompanies the Member on such travel.

(2)

Travel by Employees of Committees

An employee of Congress whose employing office is the office of a committee of the House of Representatives or Senate (including a joint committee) may not undertake any official foreign travel unless—

(A)

the authorizing office for the travel is the office of the committee;

(B)

the travel is undertaken by the employee to accompany a Member who serves on the committee on the Member’s own official foreign travel; and

(C)

the number of employees accompanying the Members of the committee on such travel does not exceed the number of Members of the committee who are participating in such travel.

(3)

Exception for Certain Travel

This subsection does not apply with respect to travel to a military installation or travel to a theater of operations of the Armed Forces.

(c)

Requiring Efforts To Reduce Expenses; Return of Unspent Per Diem

Each Member and employee of Congress who undertakes official foreign travel shall—

(1)

take such actions as may be necessary to reduce the costs incurred for such travel; and

(2)

return any per diem provided to the Member or employee which remains unexpended as of the conclusion of the travel.

(d)

No effect on other authorization requirements

Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect any requirement under the Rules of the House of Representatives, the Standing Rules of the Senate, or any law that a Member, officer, or employee of Congress obtain authorization for official foreign travel prior to undertaking such travel.

(e)

Regulations

This section shall be carried out in accordance with regulations promulgated—

(1)

by the Committee on House Administration of the House of Representatives, with respect to Members and employees of the House of Representatives; or

(2)

by the Committee on Rules and Administration of the Senate, with respect to Senators and employees of the Senate.

4.

Definitions

In this Act, the following definitions apply:

(1)

The term authorizing office means, with respect to a Member or employee of Congress, the office which is authorized under law or the Rules of the House of Representatives or the Standing Rules of the Senate to approve the use of appropriated funds, including official funds of the Senate or House of Representatives, for official travel outside of the United States by the Member or employee.

(2)

The term employee of Congress means an individual whose salary is disbursed by the Chief Administrative Officer of the House of Representatives or the Secretary of the Senate.

(3)

The term Member of Congress means a Senator or a Representative in, or Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, the Congress.

(4)

The term official foreign travel means any travel outside of the United States for which the costs (including the costs of transportation, lodging, meals, and related expenses) may be covered by appropriated funds, including official funds of the Senate or House of Representatives, under law or the Rules of the House of Representatives or the Standing Rules of the Senate, or by funds provided under section 502(b) of the Mutual Security Act of 1954 (22 U.S.C. 1754(b)).

5.

Effective date

This Act shall apply with respect to official foreign travel undertaken after the expiration of the 90-day period which begins on the date of the enactment of this Act.