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Hastert Urges GOP Conference to Focus on Campaigns, Not CODELs

With Election Day looming larger on the calendar, Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) is imploring his colleagues to focus on campaigning rather than globetrotting.

At last week’s GOP Conference meeting, Hastert told the assembled Republican lawmakers that he would prefer they keep official trips abroad to a minimum.

The Speaker wants the Members to spend their time instead working to get themselves and their fellow Republicans re-elected in November.

Hastert “said that we need all the Members to re-look at CODELs and make sure that what they’re doing is important because keeping our majority is more important,” said a Republican leadership aide.

The aide added that Hastert makes a similar pitch during most election years, but in 2004 the issue of Congressional delegations may take on an added significance because of the ongoing war in Iraq.

That and the increased prominence of foreign policy issues in general this year makes it more likely that lawmakers will seek to travel abroad — whether it’s to the Middle East or elsewhere.

Hastert himself has one CODEL planned in the near future. In June, he will travel to France to attend ceremonies marking the 60th anniversary of the Normandy invasion.

Next month, Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) will lead several Members on a weeklong trip to Dublin and Budapest.

In January, Hastert led a delegation of 10 lawmakers who travelled to Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile.

That same month, Rep. John Sullivan (R-Okla.) visited Great Britain, while four other lawmakers went to China.

CORRECTION: Rep. John Sullivan (R-Okla.) did not visit Great Britain. A foreign travel expenditure report noted that the “Hon. John V. Sullivan” went on an official trip to Great Britain. That Sullivan is the House Deputy Parliamentarian.

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