Senators now are allowed to use taxpayer dollars to travel to the funerals of service members in their home states.

The new policy adopted this week by the Rules Committee was championed by Sen. Ben Nelson, who argued that it was wrong to cover the cost of a senator flying across the country to give a speech, but not to attend the funeral of a soldier or Marine killed in action.

"I consider it one of my most important duties to attend the funerals of our fallen soldiers," said Nelson, D-Neb., in a statement Friday. "They have given their lives in service to their countries and they should be officially honored by the very highest level of government."

Nelson is a member of the Rules Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee. The Rules Committee, among other things, determines what activities by a senator qualify as official duty and can be reimbursed using federal funds.