Congressional Comments

Rep. Tlaib recruiting members for ‘Congressional delegation’ to West Bank

Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) is organizing a trip to the Palestinian Territories, slated for the August recess, competing with AIPAC/AIEF’s trip to Israel for freshmen members, traditionally chaperoned by House leadership.

Asked on Tuesday if she’ll be going on the AIEF trip to Israel this summer, Congresswoman Tlaib said, “No, I have my own trip” and handed Jewish Insider a flier advertising the trip. Arranged by the “Humpty Dumpty Institute,” the leaflet bills the trip as a “congressional delegation to the Occupied Territories in Palestine,” taking place August 17-22, 2019.

Rep. Tlaib, the first female Palestinian-American member of Congress, floated the idea for this trip in an interview with the Intercept in December. Rep. Tlaib told JI on Tuesdaythat her goal in traveling to the West Bank is to help “people see the human impact on Palestinians, and what an opportunity of value to have a sitting congressmember that has a living grandmother in the Occupied Territories.”

Rep. Tlaib’s use of the phrase “Congressional delegation” is notable. If accurate, a CODEL would imply that the trip is officially supported by Congress, and paid for with congressional funds. According to a congressional source, that would mean that the funding was approved by the Speaker of the House and the relevant Chair and Ranking Member of a committee. 

Members of Congress can also take international trips that aren’t CODELs and are funded either personally out-of-pocket, or through educational foundations approved by the House Ethics Committee.

A Republican Member of Congress, Brian Babin (R-TX) wrote to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel in January, requesting that Rep. Tlaib be denied consent to travel on a CODEL, which, if organized through the House Foreign Affairs Committee would require his approval.

A committee aide told JI that since “Rep. Tlaib is not on the Foreign Affairs Committee…her official travel wouldn’t be subject to Chairman Engel’s approval.”

Editor’s note: This post has been updated to reflect that if organized outside of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Tlaib’s trip wouldn’t require Rep. Engel’s approval.

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