WASHINGTON – The stamps on their passports will still be fresh when Reps. Connie Morella, R-Bethesda, and Steny Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville, return to Washington on Monday as Congress reconvenes.
Those two were the most heavily traveled members of the Maryland congressional delegation over the winter recess, visiting Vienna, Brussels and Alabama, among other sites.
While costs for the winter recess trips are not yet available, neither Hoyer nor Morella will unseat Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Baltimore, who was the delegation’s leading traveler in 1999, according to congressional travel documents.
Sarbanes took four trips last year totaling $16,500, two of which were sponsored and paid for by the Washington-based Aspen Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit group that regularly holds congressional conferences on foreign relations and leadership. One was a U.S.-Russian relations forum held in Berlin that Sarbanes attended with his wife in August and the second was a spring conference in Beijing on U.S.-Chinese relations.
A spokesman said that as the second ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sarbanes attends the conferences mainly to learn.
“It also gives him an opportunity to promote Maryland around the world,” said Jesse Jacobs. “Its part of his role.”
Hoyer took five trips in December and January, including a trip to Vienna for a three-day human rights conference of the Helsinki Commission, on which he sits. Most of his trips were spent fund raising and campaigning for fellow Democratic House members in Alabama, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Morella returned Wednesday from an 11-day trip to Europe, where she attended the 51st session of the Transatlantic Legislator’s Dialogue in Brussels with 13 other House members and one senator.
“We brought issues that were important to our economy,” Morella said. “We also met with the leaders of the European Parliament and the European Union.”
Morella was second in the delegation to Sarbanes in 1999 travel, spending almost $16,000 on trips to Rome, Alaska and Pennsylvania. She and her husband also attended the Aspen Institute conference in Berlin that the Sarbanes attended.
Dick Clark, director of Aspen’s Congressional Program, said the forums are designed to educate lawmakers about foreign policy issues.
“There’s often a disconnect between scholars and policy makers to where they don’t always know each other,” said Clark, also a former senator from Iowa. “These forums bring together members of Congress from both parties with experts and scholars on foreign policy subjects.”
Aspen also sponsors a biennial conference for all House members, designed to reduce partisanship and create a positive working relationship. Morella attended last year’s conference in Hershey, Pa., with her husband, grandson and the grandson’s friend. Hoyer sent a staff member to the conference in his place.
Morella’s other 1999 trips included leading six House members to the Caucasus region to review conditions in the area, a visit to Rome paid for by the National Italian American Foundation and a trip to Alaska paid for by the Alaska Rainforest campaign.
Sarbanes also took trips last year to New York City for a speech at the New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens and to Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., to give the inaugural lecture of the university’s Hellenic Studies Program.
Other members of the delegation reported little or, in some cases, no travel. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Baltimore, and Reps. Wayne Gilchrest, R- Kennedyville, and Roscoe Bartlett, R-Frederick, reported no 1999 travel.
Rep. Benjamin Cardin, D-Baltimore, traveled to Florida for a congressional health policy conference sponsored by the Commonwealth Fund and Howard University. He also traveled to a speaking engagement at St. Mary’s College. Both trips totaled $3,263.
Rep. Robert Ehrlich, R-Timonium, spent $5,512 on three trips in 1999, including January trips to a regional conference sponsored by UPS in Atlanta and to Miami to observe surgical techniques for the American College of Surgeons.
Ehrlich’s final trip came in March when Seagrams and Sons sponsored a visit to the Universal Studios Escape theme park in Orlando for Ehrlich and his wife. — Capital News Service reporters Sandy Alexander, Erin Medea, Nicole Morgan, Ananda Shorey and Kathryn S. Wenner contributed to this story.