Sen. John Cornyn Blames Exorbitant Travel Costs on Size of Texas

Maybe he should try flying coach.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) has tried to portray himself as an upstanding lawmaker dedicated to fiscal restraint. He has frequently criticized “wasteful spending” in the federal government and even called President Obama’s spending plans “reckless.”

Last month, Politico published a chart illustrating the transportation costs from the offices of all 100 U.S. Senators. Topping off the list was Cornyn, who has spent over $150,000 on travel costs during the first half of the 2009 fiscal year.

When a local ABC News affiliate in Dallas (WFAA) asked him about his expensive travel habits, Cornyn called Politico’s report “a cheap shot.” The reporter then asked the obvious follow-up, “In what sense was it a cheap shot? They were using the Secretary of the Senate information?” However, Cornyn wouldn’t budge and instead decided to dig in:

CORNYN: Oh yeah, not every state is the same. When you represent a state as big as Texas and traveling home from Washington D.C. every weekend, it unfortunately costs some money.

The “Texas is a big state” defense seems plausible on its face, but the same records Politico reported show that Texas’s other U.S. Senator, Kay Bailey Hutchison (R), spent nearly 43 percent less on travel than Cornyn during the same period ($87,651).

Moreover, California Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who represent a state similar to Texas in size and population (and one that’s further away from Washington, DC), spent less than Cornyn on travel combined (Boxer $72,473; Feinstein $29,917; Total $102,390).


Benjamin J. Armbruster is a Research Associate for The Progress Report and at the Center for American Progress.
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