Several senators, declaring that they will be going on a "serious" mission to observe the opening of U.S.-Soviet arms control talks in Geneva this month, accused their House counterparts Thursday of making a junket out of the trip by taking spouses and stopping in Ireland on the way back.
"We'll have a stripped-down delegation--12 senators, four staffers, no wives," Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) stated. In contrast, he said, the House planned to send 16 representatives, seven aides and all the spouses who want to go.
"It's unfortunate," Warner said. "It'll be a good color story for the journalists there." In fact, a Democratic senator's aide said, the senators are considering going to Geneva a day earlier than the House group "so they won't be tarred with the same brush" of bad publicity on their arrival.
Members of the House delegation were infuriated by the charges. "That's ludicrous," Rep. Esteban Torres (D-La Puente) responded bluntly. "This is one of the most serious things I'll ever undertake."
The House group, he said, will convey Congress' views to the American and Soviet negotiators and will inform House colleagues on the talks when it returns.
John Brady, staff director of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said that the House group will depart March 10 and return March 18 after stopping for a day or two in Ireland, where the representatives hope to meet with officials about the sectarian violence in Northern Ireland.
"These trips are called junkets, but the guys actually work very hard," Brady said.
Warner said that the senators going to Geneva plan to "buckle down, do our job and return promptly."