Belmonte limits foreign travels of House members

Belmonte limits foreign travels of House members

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. is limiting the foreign travel of members of the House of Representatives as part of the austerity and streamlining measures he is undertaking.

Sources say the Speaker is restricting members who have to attend parliamentary conferences abroad to one trip a year.

A traveling congressman or congresswoman could be away only for a maximum of seven days, while a delegation to a foreign conference could have a maximum of five members.

A member on an official trip abroad is entitled to a free plane ticket and a per diem of up to $300 a day depending on his destination.

There are at least five parliamentary conferences that are open to lawmakers and officials of the House secretariat every year.

In addition to these, there is the annual meeting of the International Labor Organization (ILO) in Geneva, Switzerland, a favorite destination of senators and congressmen.

The ILO conference takes place in June or July, when Congress is usually on recess.

There are also the meetings of the United Nations in New York, another favorite sightseeing and vacation destination. In the past, foreign travels are a big drain on House resources. Many congressmen had three to five trips a year, in addition to invitations to join presidential visits. Delegations were also large.