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Recess Brings Republican CODELs

While most House Members are now home doing their usual district work, the chamber’s top two Republicans will spend this week hopscotching around the globe visiting friendly countries.

Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) is taking a bipartisan, eight-lawmaker Congressional delegation along for the ride as he tours Europe, while Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) is visiting Israel, Jordan and Iraq. Both trips were scheduled to depart over the weekend.

Hastert’s CODEL comes on the heels of British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s joint address to Congress, during which he spoke of the importance of strengthening the relationship between Europe and the United States.

“I agree with Mr. Blair’s assessment,” Hastert said in a release. “While we have our fair share of differences with our friends in Europe, those differences pale in comparison to our mutual interests and shared values.”

Not surprisingly, those friendly countries with whom the United States has the most “differences” — France and Germany in particular — aren’t on Hastert’s itinerary, which includes visits to Great Britain, Denmark, Spain and the Netherlands. All four countries were part of the “coalition of the willing” that supported the war with Iraq.

The normally mild-mannered Hastert has been uncharacteristically outspoken at times in criticizing Europe, not just on the Iraq issue but also on trade matters.

“I hope this trip will help us improve communications with our colleagues in Europe, as it helps us learn about the challenges facing our companies that want to sell their products overseas,” Hastert said.

The trip was scheduled to include GOP Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (Calif.), Jim Nussle (Iowa), Pete Hoekstra (Mich.), Doc Hastings (Wash.), Sue Myrick (N.C.), Charlie Norwood (Ga.) and Denny Rehberg (Mont.) as well as Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings (Fla.).

DeLay, meanwhile, is spending the next several days in the Middle East, mostly in Israel.

The Majority Leader, a longtime supporter of the Jewish state, will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and newly installed Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, who met with President Bush at the White House on Friday.

DeLay will also give a speech at a state room in the Knesset, hosted by Speaker Reuven Rivlin, and will visit survivors of terrorist attacks as well as Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust museum.

In Jordan, DeLay will meet with King Abdullah II, and in Iraq, the Texas lawmaker plans to meet with troops and Ambassador Paul Bremer. On the way home, DeLay will stop in Rome to confer with the ambassador stationed there.

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