Roll Call said GOP members left for the "Bright Lights and Broadway" trip to the Big Apple Friday morning aboard Amtrak in two private cars. The itinerary indicated members stayed at the luxury New York Palace hotel, home to the two-star Michelin-rated restaurant GILT, and went on a shopping trip to Bloomingdale's 30 minutes before the store opened – complete with a shopping pass and availability of a discount for qualifying purchases.
The itinerary obtained by Roll Call indicated that after a private reception, members and others could take in a Broadway show. On Sunday morning, participants could visit toy store FAO Schwarz and were offered a 45-minute tour, among other perks.
"Even members of Congress buy holiday gifts for their families this time of year. And yes, like every political committee we hold fundraising events in New York City," said Andrea Bozek, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, which organized the tony fundraiser.
Bozek declined to answer questions about whether the registration fee of $575 -- which the registration form indicated paid for "transportation, a theater ticket, events and private shopping" -- paid for lodging or how many lawmakers went on the trip, Roll Call said.
Gabriela Schneider, communications director for the watchdog Sunlight Foundation, criticized lawmakers for "gallivanting around New York City with high-end shopping sprees" when the fiscal cliff remained unresolved and threatened to return the economy to recession.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi criticized Republicans Thursday for adjourning for the week the previous day.
"We most certainly should be here. And it came as quite a surprise ... that the Republicans would leave, who came in Tuesday and left Wednesday ... with all that needs to be done," Pelosi said. "Sounds like people don't want to be in town for some reason, and the reason is because ... we are asking them to sign a discharge petition" to pass a Senate bill extending tax cuts enacted during the George W. Bush presidency for all but the top 2 percent of wage-earners."