The Cable

FP's exclusive guide to Congress's summer junkets

It's August, and the capital is clearing out as many Washingtonians head for vacation. And Congress is no exception.

Foreign Policy has obtained a list of planned Congressional delegations -- or CODELs for short -- over the August recess.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) plans to lead a delegation including his friends Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), and Susan Collins (R-ME), on what looks to be a gritty, six-country, seven-day tour of post-war zones and forward operating bases, including Libya, Kuwait, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Iceland. One sign the trip is tough? No spouses signed up to come along.

Similarly, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is scheduled to lead a no-frills CODEL including Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), to Amman, Jordan; Islamabad, Pakistan; and Kabul, Afghanistan, where they will be observing Afghanistan's presidential elections. [UPDATE: A Kerry spokesman e-mails: "Kerry's travel to Pakistan and Afghanistan was canceled on Wednesday. He's now not going anywhere over recess."]

But for every workhorse CODEL such as McCain's or Kerry's, there are those that look to rival Club Med.

For instance, there will be no flak jackets required for Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) when he leads a large congressional delegation on an around-the-world trip to Ireland, Switzerland, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China, and Canada. And the trip looks to be more spouse-friendly: All of the seven House members on the Boehner-led trip -- Dan Boren (D-OK), Jo Bonner (R-AL), Dave Camp (R-MI), Tom Latham (R-LA), and Greg Walden (R-OR) -- say they are bringing their spouses (at "no cost to the DoD," the CODEL itinerary states).

What is the purpose of the Boehner-led CODEL? "To discuss issues of mutual interest with government and private sector officials on issues related to global and regional economic performance and energy security," the confirmed itinerary says. Boehner's office didn't respond to a query. (Perhaps that's because the CODEL schedule indicates his delegation already departed for Europe July 31 and is expected back by way of Asia and Canada August 13.)

Similarly, one wouldn't need to rough it on Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX)'s planned trip to Britain, Turkey, Egypt, Greece, and Italy. Among Cuellar's Mediterranean destined delegation are Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA), DC's Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Rep. John Carter (R-TX), Rep. Michael McCaul (T-TX), and Rep. Charles Dent (R-PA), all save Norton accompanied by their better halves.

What's the purpose of the Cuellar-led trip? "To investigate the critical security measures in place within these countries," the unconfirmed itinerary says. But of course. [UPDATE: A Cuellar spokesman e-mails: "Congressman Cuellar’s codel was cancelled before August recess."]

Fresh from Judge Sonia Sotamayor's confirmation as Supreme Court Justice, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is scheduled to lead a delegation to England early next month to "conduct official British-American Parliamentary Group meetings," the unconfirmed CODEL itinerary says.

But who gets the award for planning what looks to be the cushiest trip? Rep. Jerry Costello (D-IL) is scheduled to lead a CODEL to Germany, Italy, and Spain later this month through the first week of September. Among the House members scheduled to travel with him and Mrs. Costello to Europe: Rep. John Duncan (R-TN), Harold Rogers (R-KY), Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-TX), Rep. Tim Holden (D-PA), Rep. Henry Brown (R-SC), Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA), Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), and Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL). Most of the delegates save Ortiz and Bernice Johnson are planning to bring their spouses.

What's the purpose? "To meet with State and local officials to discuss port security and aviation maintenance issues," the itinerary says. Costello's office told Foreign Policy Thursday the trip has not been confirmed.

Bon voyage!

The Cable

State moving to resolve Kyl hold on nominees

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) has placed a hold on some State Department nominees, pending Foggy Bottom turning over to him the U.S. government negotiating record on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, Hill sources say.

The U.S. has signed the CTBT treaty, which bans the testing of nuclear weapons, but the Senate has not ratified it. Kyl was central to the effort in 1999 to prevent Senate ratification, and it was defeated overwhelmingly. Obama said in a speech on nonproliferation in Prague in April that he would like to seek the advise and consent of the Senate on CTBT. Kyl's current documentation demands seem to be an indication that he will move to try to prevent Obama from doing so, as he prevented Senate ratification of the CTBT treaty a decade ago under President Bill Clinton.

"Kyl thought he got an agreement" when he agreed to lift the hold on the nomination of Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher last month, one Hill foreign policy hand explained. "But he was apparently not happy with what he got afterwards, and he's asking for more documentation."

The State Department's Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs Rich Verma is said to be handling the matter, the Hill aide said. "There are certain precedents about what the executive branch can give Congress, they don't necessarily give them everything." So that needs to be worked out, he said.

One official thought that a handover to Kyl of documents on the CTBT negotiations - apparently all already in the public domain - was being arranged for Friday, and that the whole matter might be resolved then.  

A spokesman for Senator Kyl didn't immediately respond to queries.

The official said it was his understanding that Kyl's hold did not apply to ambassador nominees (it did however seem to be affecting the long suffering acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, who finally had a hold lifted by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) last week.)

Obama met with his nominee to be US ambassador to Japan John Roos at the Oval Office today.

Tauscher was traveling in Brazil this week with other U.S. officials.