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.