CODELs: Boehner to Israel, McCarthy to Tunisia, Pelosi to Asia
Not everybody gets to travel overseas during the two-week House recess —
just ask Louie Gohmert.
However, many of those lawmakers who are participating in high-profile congressional delegations, or CODELs, will come back to Capitol Hill armed with new insights into some of the biggest policy issues facing Congress this year.
Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, is leading a delegation that will culminate in a meeting in Israel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who just won re-election and addressed a joint meeting of Congress earlier this month.
According to readouts from the speaker’s office, the group started out in Manchester, England, and made a stop in Amman, Jordan. Discussions have centered around sustaining U.S. relationships with longtime allies and recognizing the threat Iran could pose in the Middle East should diplomacy fail to rein in the Islamic republic’s nuclear program. In a taped interview for “State of the Union” that aired Sunday, Boehner said the House would take action to sanction Iran if talks reached an impasse.
Boehner filled out his CODEL with “senior lawmakers charged with oversight of the United States’ efforts to defeat the terrorist threat and support our partners in the region.” They are also all Republicans, and many of them count themselves among Boehner’s closest friends: Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes of California; Education and Workforce Chairman John Kline of Minnesota; Middle East and North African Foreign Affairs Subcommittee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida; Appropriations Subcommittee Chairmen Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey, Tom Cole of Oklahoma, Ken Calvert of California and Mike Simpson of Idaho; and Reps. Martha Roby of Alabama and George Holding of North Carolina.
Elsewhere, the House’s No. 2 Republican, Kevin McCarthy of California, was leading a CODEL to Tunis, Tunisia. The group visited the site of the Bardo National Museum and laid a wreath in memory of the 22 people killed there in a terrorist attack on March 18. McCarthy delivered remarks that condemned the “radical terrorists who have been waging war against pluralism and democracy” and proclaimed that “the terrorists who are enemies of Tunisia are the enemies of America, too.”
McCarthy’s CODEL also went to Kiev, Ukraine, where lawmakers reaffirmed their support for the nation in the face of Russian aggression. The House majority leader, who recently spearheaded a letter urging the Obama administration to send lethal aid to the Ukraine military, said there “must be consequences for the growing threat [Russia President] Vladimir Putin’s behavior poses to international peace and security.”
As with Boehner’s delegation, McCarthy’s includes lawmakers friendly to House GOP leadership: State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Kay Granger, R-Texas, Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., Agriculture Chairman K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, and GOP Reps. Erik Paulsen of Minnesota, Diane Black of Tennessee and Tom Graves of Georgia.
McCarthy also invited a Democrat along for the ride: Vermont Rep. Peter Welch, who has a reputation for forging bipartisan bonds.
Finally, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is taking colleagues to Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Korea and Japan. The trip is “focused on critical issues underpinning U.S. relations with the region,” according to a press release from Pelosi’s press office, “including security cooperation, human rights, and trade.”
“Members are particularly interested in gaining further understanding of how the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that is currently being negotiated will impact the region’s markets and economies,” Pelosi added in a statement accompanying the release.
Congress is poised in the months ahead to vote on giving President Barack Obama authority to enter into formal trade negotiations with certain trans-pacific countries, and the issue is a divisive one in the House Democratic Caucus. Pelosi and other party leaders have said they hoped to get to a point where they could support so-called “Fast-Track Authority,” and this trip could help in solidifying members’ positions one way or the other.
Pelosi is traveling with a California-heavy delegation of House Democrats: Reps. Anna G. Eshoo, Zoe Lofgren, Mike Thompson and Doris Matsui. Also participating are the two most senior Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over trade matters — ranking member Sander M. Levin of Michigan and Rep. Charles B. Rangel of New York — and Democratic Reps. Dan Kildee of Michigan and Mark Takai of Hawaii.
Like McCarthy, she also has a Republican, Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, on board.