Congress Hits Road To Jerusalem

The greatly underworked and unproductive Congress just adjourned for a long, undeserved summer vacation. You know what that means:  it’s time to hit the road.

At least 60 are heading for Israel this month on what they euphemistically refer to as “study missions.”

First to the boarding gate will House Democrats led by Majority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland), who will be making his umpteenth visit to the Holy Land.  This time he’s taking 36 other House Democrats. 

Hoyer’s office said the group expects to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as well as other Israeli, Palestinian and American officials. 

Minority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) will follow shortly afterwards with a couple of dozen Republican freshmen.  Cantor is the lone Jewish Republican in the 113th Congress, and his group will also schmooze with top Israeli and Palestinian leaders, though perhaps a bit more to the political right in Israel.

The Israeli government has become very skilled at hosting congressional delegations (CODELs) of all stripes. Rarely has any lawmaker returned with less than a positive experience. The Israelis, starting with Netanyahu (R-Likud), understand these trips are not only good foreign policy but also good domestic politics for both countries.

Picking up the tab for the Hoyer and Cantor CODELs will be the American Israel Education Foundation, a non-profit branch of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Under House rules, no lobbyists will be accompanying the lawmakers on this trip but each participant can be expected to send his Jewish constituents and donors a glowing “How I spent my summer vacation” report afterwards just to let them know what a great friend of Israel their representative is.  P.S. My opponent is terrible and doesn’t love Israel nearly as much as I do, so send money to my re-election campaign fund.

There will be other CODELs to Israel (and other points on the globe) by members of the House and Senate during summer break, especially since this is not an election year so they don’t have to stay as close to home.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.