Check Out the Lavish Vacations You Have Paid For ...

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," July 2, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Things might be a bit tight for your family this summer, and you might not able to afford that family vacation. But guess what, you may be paying for your congressman to jaunt off to Paris in style.

"The Wall Street Journal" just analyzed congressional travel records and found spending on taxpayer financed congressional trips has tripled since 2001.

In 2008, $13 million was spent sending our representatives abroad, not just to the Iraq and Afghanistan, but to the Galapagos Islands, Italy, and Paris to stay at the Intercontinental. Rooms cost $500 a night.

Remember, this is your money. Legitimate work trips, or taxpayer- funded vacations? John Bussey, Washington Bureau Chief of the "Wall Street Journal" joins us.

John, so, what do you got?

JOHN BUSSEY, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well, this is the storyline Tim Faramen (ph) and Pearl Demans (ph). And what they did was they went back and scoured the spending bills and reports of Congress to see what has been happening on the travel front. And it is what you say, it's a huge surge.

Mind you, in 2005, there was a new law that said that Congress could no longer take free travel from lobbyists. So now it has shifted to the taxpayer. And you would be surprised where a lot of these Congress members go.


BUSSEY: Well, the Galapagos Islands for one. This was a trip by Brian Baird, a Democrat from Washington State. And his ostensible reason for going was, and this sounds like a good one, global warming.

He took his wife and some other members of Congress, their families. And they did in fact, talked to some scientists there. But they also spent some time at breeding centers for giant turtles, and the families went off and snorkel. And it was a four-day trip in the Galapagos Islands to study global warming.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's interesting, because there seems to be two types. I know Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, and he has been to Iraq six times. He is on the Intel committee at the house. He has been three times to Afghanistan. He has asthma, just had surgery. He travels on military planes and sits on the bench.

And have those guys, you have the guys that do the heavy lifting. And then you got another one going down the Seine, right, in Paris?

BUSSEY: That's right. There was a trip to see the Paris air show and to talk to some defense industry specialists in Europe. But it resulted in several Congress people taking boats down the Seine to get to know each other is another reason --

VAN SUSTEREN: Who OKs these?

BUSSEY: Well, this is the Congress people's own decisions. These trips are decided by members of Congress, and they take military flights. There are 16 military planes that are set aside just for this. And they cost from $3,000-$12,000 per hour to run. And what you see in the records is a fraction of the cost of the spending. What they don't report is the cost of those military planes, which get booked on a different ledger someplace. So we really don't know, we can only estimate how much is being spent, and is credited.

VAN SUSTEREN: It is so important to go and see places. Like I want those who are voting to do things in Iraq to go see Iraq, go see what our men and women are doing over there and experience so that the men and women get the equipment that they need, or whatever it is.

And then these others think of the air shows -- can't you watch those on TV?


VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, do you really need those?

BUSSEY: You would think.

Or take a fellow member of Congress around the corner to a nice bar on Capitol Hill to get to know them instead of going to Paris.

VAN SUSTEREN: To get to know them, oh my god.

BUSSEY: Your point is well taken. A lot of these trips are legit. There were 113 trips in 2008 to Iraq -- to Iraq alone, not just Afghanistan as well, but just Iraq. That is not a garden spot. These are tough trips to make. Even if the flight over the ocean is easy, one should get there, it's not pleasant.

So there are a lot of these trips that are made that are serious study trips, and in some you have to question.

VAN SUSTEREN: Where do we find these? Are these on some website so we can go through and see who is going to Iraq in the stands and he was going to the air show in Paris?

BUSSEY: Yes, you can. And we are going to continue following this. We are going to continue to write about this topic.

But you can go to and take a look.

VAN SUSTEREN: "The Wall Street Journal" has it. That's great. It's my favorite paper. I always say that, though.

Anyway, I should say there were corporate cousins, so --

BUSSEY: We are indeed.

VAN SUSTEREN: But I liked you before we were corporate cousins. Anyway, thank you.

BUSSEY: My pleasure.

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