Washington The January junket to warmer climates - a postholiday tradition of sorts for some members of Congress - could be headed to the wayside.
An accelerated work schedule set up by the new Democratic leadership has put a halt on many January excursions funded by lobbyists. Given that Democrats are taking over the House and Senate in part because of GOP ethics scandals, some lawmakers are fearful of the voters' wrath anyway if they go on the trips.
"I think members are looking more closely at privately funded travel, and I think ... many of them are being careful and avoiding it," said Rep. Charles Dent, R-Pa.
The last time members had to work much of January was 1995, when a newly Republican-led House took control, recalled Todd Hauptli, senior executive vice president of the American Association of Airport Executives.
For the past 21 years, except for 1995, his organization paid for members to fly to Hawaii to discuss airline issues at a conference. This January, members are declining the offer and will participate by videotape.
"They can't really be scooting around the country when Congress is in session," Hauptli said.
Members also will be missing out this January on attending the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where TiVo digital records and Nintendos first were introduced. The Consumer Electronics Association spent thousands last year sending a few members and their staffs to the show, where they stayed in the Bellagio Hotel and Casino.
An Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers spokesman said the group does not expect any lawmakers to use hotel rooms reserved for them in January at a hotel near the annual Detroit auto show, where new cars and technologies are showcased. Instead, the group is encouraging members to attend the Washington auto show later in the month, said Charles Territo, an association spokesman.
"We'll continue to look at other ways to educate members of Congress," Territo said.