Reporter’s Notebook: Since Congress is out of session, lawmakers’ travel destinations are speaking for themselves

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Oh, the places they went to …

What lawmakers do when they are of Sessions can provide clues as to what Congress can do when it is in session.

See where they’re going. This helps shape the story of what lawmakers want to say when Congress meets.

This is also the year’s two-and-a-half-week-old April “break”. Congress will usually expel Washington for a longer period in March or April – depending on when Easter and Easter fall.

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But first a little cleaning.

Congress is like any other institution in America. There are working horses. Deputies who work continuously on behalf of their constituents and the nation. And as everywhere, there are slackers. Laggards. Watchmakers. Those who hardly have the best interests of the country at heart.

US Capitol in December 2021.
(Bill Clark / CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images, File)

As we say, we enjoy a “representative government” in the United States.

So when Congress goes on a “break,” in fact, it’s not a break. Of course. Some members use this time to meet family or even on vacation. They need a break like most others. But frankly, many lawmakers spend these lengthy “breaks” at work. They are back in their neighborhoods and are huddled with voters, they visit machine shops, dairy farms, universities, they attend church festivities, they talk to people at gas stations, they go on patrols.

A long period of time outside of Washington is not really “free.” And voters would certainly fight lawmakers if they stayed in Washington all the time. Criticism would grow that lawmakers were “born” and are now settled too deep “inside the Beltway.”

So during this break, members are buzzing about their home states and districts. They also fly around the world on what is known, in short Congress as “CODELs”. It stands for Capitol Hill for “congressional delegation” – often led by Senate and House of Representatives or committee chairmen.

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This is where the “break” part tells us a lot about what Congress will do when members meet again.

For example, the leader of the House of Representatives of Stena Hoyer, D-Md., Led CODEL to Denmark, Germany, Poland and the border with Ukraine. House Leader Kevin McCarthy, of California, and Whip Minority Steve Scalise, California, also led a group of lawmakers to Eastern Europe.

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Ukraine is in the forefront and in the middle. Republicans criticized the Biden administration for not taking more aggressive action against Ukraine – although Democrats asked what more could the White House do. But the Ukrainian crisis will not disappear. Congress is likely to have to approve further humanitarian and military assistance to Ukraine by the end of spring or early summer. It says nothing about releasing money to relocate Ukrainian refugees to the US or abroad.

Members of a bilateral congress delegation on the Ukrainian-Polish border on the weekend of March 4, 2022.

Members of a bilateral congress delegation on the Ukrainian-Polish border on the weekend of March 4, 2022.
(Rep. Victoria Spartz Office)

Then came the news that Rep. Victoria Spartz, R-Ind. – a native of Ukraine – and Senator Steve Daines, R-Mont., Traveled to Ukraine on their own. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs discouraged members from going to Ukraine on their own.

Some GOPers have tried to accuse House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California with Ukraine’s disapproval of CODELs. It is true that the speaker must sign any CODELs overseas – which, of course, must also bless the State Department.

The Foreign Ministry is unwilling to allow an official trip to Ukraine out of concern for the safety of lawmakers. They told Fox that such a trip could put lawmakers at risk of injury or even capture. In addition, there is a concern that, should an incident occur, diplomatic and military security forces could be threatened by the protection or evacuation of lawmakers.

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Fox spoke to at least one lawmaker who wanted to go with Spartz and Daines. However, the member did not believe that the path they had chosen was “safe.”

Another group of lawmakers hoped to travel to Ukraine. However, the Foxs said they became infected with COVID when they were at another CODEL in Eastern Europe.

In this space, we wrote about the “tuxedo” variant of COVID in Washington after the Gridiron dinner in white ties. Now that infected members are returning from their overseas trips, they may have a “CODEL” option.

The coronavirus will not disappear. This will remain a problem worldwide. This is exacerbated by the sharp rise in cases between lawmakers and officials in Washington.

You see, I told you what members do overseas over the break, it tells you a lot about what they will be dealing with when Congress returns to the session. See what COVID numbers are among lawmakers when Congress returns to next week’s session.

But back to CODEL …

Some MEPs wanted to go to Ukraine to show solidarity with the Ukrainian people. Others wanted to put their finger in the eye of the Foreign Ministry, which weeks ago withdrew its diplomatic presence in Ukraine.

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Representative Mark Green, R-Tenn., Noted that the United States never withdrew its diplomats from London during World War II and the Battle of Britain.

Pelosi was scheduled to lead CODEL to Asia, crossing Taiwan via a break. However, the spokesman then tested positive for COVID. She was asymptomatic and the test was negative a few days later. However, Pelosi’s positive test canceled the trip. Lawmakers are being called to China and possible measures it may take against Taiwan in the coming months. Especially after Russia invaded Ukraine. Beijing is believed to be closely monitoring Moscow’s successes and failures in Ukraine and the approach it will eventually take to Taiwan.

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Another good indicator of what is on the Congress document: the increase in lawmakers who have visited the US-Mexico border. Many lawmakers are heading for the border as the Biden administration suspends pandemic policies to curb illegal immigration at the border known as Title 42.

A Texas Department of Public Security officer in Del Rio, Texas, led a group of migrants who crossed the border and surrendered last year.

A Texas Department of Public Security officer in Del Rio, Texas, led a group of migrants who crossed the border and surrendered last year.
(AP Photo / Eric Gay, File)

Members of both sides know that the border crisis will be a key issue for the campaign this autumn. That’s why the Sens. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., And Maggie Hassan, DN.H., took trips to the border. McCarthy also leads border lawmakers to challenge the administration’s decision to repeal Title 42.

We will probably find out about the other overseas adventures of the legislators in the coming days.

And then everyone will return to Washington by the middle of next week.

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And what will the deputies talk about?

Just look at the places they went.

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