WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott apparently set a record for congressional travel with his roughly $21,000 privately-funded trip to Bali earlier this month.
According to the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, the Seattle liberal’s visit to Indonesia appears to be the costliest trip taken by a member of Congress since rules on privately-sponsored trips were tightened in 2007.
Costs for McDermott’s aide, Jessica Lee, for the weeklong trip totaled nearly $24,000. All expenses were covered by Chemonics International, which contracts with the federal government on global development projects.
McDermott is known for his congressional wanderlust. He has taken 26 trips in the past six years, 12 of them to Belgium, Rwanda, Japan and other international destinations. Rep. Norm Dicks of Bremerton, by contrast, reported taking two trips during the same period — to Hawaii and to Spain.
McDermott, co-chair of the congressional Indonesia Caucus, was attending the Bali Democracy Forum as well as lobbying Indonesian officials to drop new regulations that have effectively halted exports of Washington apples to that country.
McDermott’s trip costs, submitted by Chemonics, included $9,600 in apparent business-class airfare from Seattle to Bali to Washington, D.C. It also included related expenses, including $2,500 for interpreters and $400 for hotel rooms for security escorts.
Most of McDermott’s trips have been paid for by nonprofits and private foundations. By contrast, official congressional delegation trips, called CODELs, are paid for by the federal government.