A Republican congressman from Texas wants Democrats to block an official trip to Palestine being planned by U.S. Representative Rashida Tlaib for herself and some congressional colleagues.
Representative Brian Babin wrote a letter to every Democratic house committee chair urging them not to authorize Tlaib's trip, which is known as a Congressional delegation, or CODEL. Tlaib represents Michigan's 13th congressional district. Babin said the trip would threaten the United States' relationship with Israel and would be a misappropriation of taxpayer dollars:
Israel is of vital importance to U.S. interests in the Middle East, a fact widely acknowledged on both sides of the aisle. Since Israel's beginnings, our nations have pursued strong relations based on common values, providing mutual security in the region and helping to spread democratic practices. The mere prospect of a CODEL like this threatens the relationship. Allowed to proceed, this action could undo years of goodwill built by the foreign policy and Israeli-American communities. To signal to our most threatened ally in the region that the United States Congress sanctions and official trip to visit Israel's nemesis would be an exceedingly dangerous path forward.
Tlaib's office issued a statement in response:
It's disappointing that during a historic government shutdown, my colleague from Texas, Congressman Babin, would send a letter full of falsehoods and fear-mongering to attempt to block my plans to take a delegation to Palestine--disappointing but not surprising. Representative Babin has a history of supporting discriminatory policies, including President Trump's Muslim ban--a degrading executive order.
The trip to Palestine is to show my fellow colleagues how life is for Palestinians. This is an essential aspect to ensure we are making well-rounded decisions on legislation that may impact them, including protections of civil rights and equality for all people--something Congressman Babin may have an issue with comprehending. I look forward to working with leadership and other colleagues to ensure this necessary trip moves forward. Right now, I'm focused on taking action to re-open the government. I hope Rep. Babin does the same.