Would someone explain why 70 members of Congress and who knows else went to Israel for a week? Does anyone care about the amount of money being spent anymore?

Jerry Naylor


(18) comments


If Congress REALLY wanted to understand what was going on in a certain country (including Israel), they would travel on their own, anonymously, and talk to people with differing opinions. Being the guest of a government (any government) assures that you are going to be fed the official government line and talk only to supporters of the government. You will learn nothing.


Our Congresspeople live lives of luxury compared to members of the UK Parliament. I have visited with both when I was at the National War College. Our Congresspeople have plush offices and furnishings and large staffs. Yet most of them take weeks to answer a constituent's letter, or maybe they never respond to it. From what I learned, if you send an email to a US Congressperson your email goes to a central office first for an evaluation before it goes to your Congressperson. That office evaluates your email and decides whether it is important and what priority it should have for answering. If your email gets to your Congressperson, it is likely reviewed and answered by a staff person. Many times a question is sent to a government agency to prepare a response. I prepared 100s of responses for congress people on a 3 day turnaround to get the response back to the congress person.

Attendance at Congressional government agency hearings is very sparse unless it is on a topic that is going to get a lot of TV coverage which offers a chance to grandstand. For most Congressional hearings the only Congress person there is the committee chairman. Most members of the committee show up for a few minutes to ask a question so they can get their question on the hearing transcript and it will appear they were at the entire hearing. Many times they don't even listen to the answer, but just quickly read their next question. Lots of times they don't speak coherent english and their questions don't even make sense. The transcript is then sent to an agency to edit it to make sure everyone is speaking in good english and they are coherent. The edited transcript is then sent back to the congressional committee for their review, final editing, and publishing. Once I was called to a congress person's office by a staff member who told me she was having trouble with an edited transcript. I thought there must have been a serious problem with how I had edited what a Congress person had said. So, I made an hour trip. When I got there the staff assistant told me she had dropped the hearing transcript on the floor and she couldn't figure how to put it back together. I showed her how the pages were numbered and it was simple to just put the pages in order. She said "oh".

By contrast members of the UK Parliament have pretty sparse offices with plain furniture. They have a secretary and usually one assistant. A member who is also a cabinet member such as Minister of Defense will have a larger office and more staff members. But, their staffs don't even come close to what heads of US Congressional Committees have.

There is a drastic difference.

In contrast


Yes, but the average Congressman or Senator serves a LOT more people than the average member of Parliament.


The "average" congressman or senator focuses on a very few people in their district or state they consider important. They pay little attention to the masses.


Just look at who the contributors are for AOC’s “re-election committee”. Only 5, that’s FIVE, are from her district. The other hundreds are not. Including the dead ones that contributed to her last one. Look it up yourselves.


Luxury? People that stay informed need staff to keep up with all the reading and information that comes in. That does not mean they do their job, but without resources they CAN NOT do their job and have to rely on lobbyist.

Obadiah Plainsmen


It took about 42 seconds to find out where the money came from...AIPAC funded the trip. AIPAC is a lobbyist organization for Israel and they paid for all of the expenses. 41 Democrats and 31 Republicans took the trip. The issue is did the trip violate the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (HLOGA), the 2007 law enacted to bar lobbyists and organizations that employ lobbyists from paying the travel expenses of members of Congress.


Thanks for investigating! Now who is going to publicize the fact they took money illegally?


Or like the group that rewards suicide bombers that sponsored Omar and Tliabs trip that wasn’t. Saying they were going to Israel when ALL documentation clearly stated ONLY Palestine!


Say what?

Comment deleted.

I care. If our people in Congress are the best we can get, I also want them to be well informed. Ideally, Congress with hearings and staff reports is like a graduate school for its Members. They must know what the world is like and that means traveling to see what our money is doing. However, I also know what many Members of Congress do on these trips. I was in the foreign service for a while. It may be a toss-up to see how well our money is used.


I don’t know what a charter flight to Israel cost but I’m sure it’s not close to the amount of money Congress allocates in aid to Israel every year.

I care.

No other country comes close to receiving the amount in aid that the US provides Israel. Since 1985, the United States has provided nearly $3 billion in grants annually, with Israel being the largest annual recipient of American aid from 1976 to 2004 and the largest cumulative recipient of aid ($121 billion, not inflation-adjusted) since World War II. In addition billions in low interest loans.

In the mist of great concerns over Palestinian humanitarian issues and abuses, I would hope congress is doing its oversight duties and seeing first hand what we are writing such huge checks for and how the money is being spent.


Maybe congress should be more concerned with humanitarian issues here at home. Like the homeless that are living on the sidewalks and using the streets as their bathroom. The rise in typhoid cases. Homeless veterans and let’s not forget the elderly.


FNP or someone is really getting bad about removing comments that follow their rules but leaving ones up that insult people or otherwise "bait" others. My previous addition included the following "Along the idea of what our money is doing, we should have a cost benefit analysis when we give our money to foreign governments. We should also have performance measures that help ensure the need for continued assistance is reduced in the future. We don't need to keep dumping good money after bad..." The same thing should be done for many of our major programs.


"Cost benefit analysis?" We have reason to give them money and they do what we want. What other analysis is needed? Many times we never want anyone to know the details.

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