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Heard on the Hill: CODELs Lead to Friendship

Members may have sat with their bipartisan buddies at this year’s State of the Union address, but Rep. Jason Chaffetz says the true test of a friendship is a Congressional delegation.

“They make a big to-do about who you’re going to sit next to at the State of the Union,” the Utah Republican tells HOH. “Go spend seven days on airplanes with each other and then you get to know Members real well.”

Chaffetz returned Friday from a CODEL that visited several countries, including Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.

He took the opportunity to bond with fellow lawmakers such as Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.). The Members ate, drank — Chaffetz says the strongest thing he sipped on was hot chocolate — and snoozed together for nearly the whole trip. In fact, he says he grew jealous of his new pal Higgins’ ability to sleep on airplanes.

“Man can that guy can toss some z’s on a plane,” he says.

While making friends was a bonus, Chaffetz says the highlight of the trip was meeting with constituents from Utah who are serving in Iraq.

“It’s surreal when you’re in one of Saddam Hussein’s old palaces meeting with six members of the Utah National Guard,” he says, adding that he asked the soldiers to write down contact information for their families so he could call them when he returned to the States.

“These guys are out there doing deployments for more than a year, and it puts it all in perspective,” Chaffetz says.

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