It’s a fair question, given the surprise and secrecy surrounding the trip Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D–Hawaii, is making to war-torn Syria. First reported by Foreign Policy this morning (click here for that story), Gabbard’s trip is of a “fact-finding” nature, her aide Emily Latimer said in an email to me this morning:
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has long been committed to peace and ending counterproductive, interventionist wars. She recently introduced the Stop Arming Terrorists Act (H.R.258), legislation that would stop our government from directly or indirectly supporting groups allied with and supporting terrorist groups like ISIS and al Qaeda.
The Congresswoman is currently on a fact finding trip to Syria and Lebanon. As a Member of the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees, and as an individual committed to doing all she can to promote and work for peace, she felt it was important to meet with a number of individuals and groups including religious leaders, humanitarian workers, refugees and government and community leaders.
As for how much the trip costs, and who is paying for it, Latimer wouldn’t say–except that the U.S. government isn’t footing the bill. “The trip was approved by House Ethics and was not paid for by taxpayer dollars,” Latimer said. “For security reasons, we will not be releasing additional details or comments until she returns.”
That’s quite a maneuver on Gabbard’s part. Latimer says she got approval for trip by House Ethics, but later this morning Politico reported that “Aides confirmed that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) weren’t given any advance warning” of the trip.
Yes, it will be very interesting to hear more about this trip–and especially who paid for it–when Gabbard returns.
Photo of Rep. Gabbard courtesy U.S. Congress