Vice President Dick Cheney's staff says he needs an extra $100,000 for his travel budget for "additional unplanned official trips."
Administration officials say the trips are related to the aftermath of Sept. 11 and travel to his undisclosed location, while Democrats suggest the money is being used for political trips in this campaign season.
Congress had appropriated $386,000 for Mr. Cheney's travel this year and was able to budget for some extra travel because the fiscal year ended after the Sept. 11 attacks. The Vice President has already spent that sum, as well as an extra $50,000 that Congress gives him for unanticipated travel. Still, Cheney staff members have notified Congress that they intend to move $100,000 from their pot for personnel to their pot for travel.
The move brings the total that Mr. Cheney is spending on travel this fiscal year to $536,000, or 38 percent higher than the amount originally allotted, a percentage increase that seems highly unusual. In 1994, the comparable year for President Bill Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore was allocated $135,000 or $164,000 in today's dollars and spent $42,000, or $51,000 in today's dollars, budget figures show.
Mr. Cheney's spokeswoman, Jennifer Millerwise, noted that the money was transferred and that there was no increase in his overall budget, and she insisted that the money was needed for official reasons. "No appropriated funds are used for political travel," she said. "There are clear guidelines that we adhere to, and political travel is covered by political entities."
Asked about the transfer of funds, David Sirota, spokesman for the Democrats
on the House Appropriations Committee, said, "This kind of disregard for other
people's money may have worked at Halliburton,
but it doesn't work with the American taxpayer."
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