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Congress busy with Easter junkets

April 16, 2007 at 10:07 AM

WASHINGTON, April 16 (UPI) -- U.S. taxpayers footed the bill for last week's tour of Caribbean resorts by members of Congress.

Flying out of Andrews Air Force Base, nine Democrats and two Republicans stopped in Honduras and Mexico before landing in the U.S. Virgin Islands to stay at a five-star Caneel Bay resort, the Washington Examiner reported Monday.

In a separate trip last week, U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., accompanied his wife and four Democratic members to Grenada and Trinidad.

In all, at least 13 congressional delegations flew to various destinations during the Easter recess at an estimated rate of $10,000 or more per flying hour, the Examiner reported.

U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., defended such travel after a trip he took to Syria was criticized by the White House.

"Members of Congress are not simply potted plants, though the White House apparently would like them to be," Lantos said to the Examiner. "Congress plays an important role in determining policy and providing funding for America's international policies."

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