Warner, Levin, Reed and Inhofe lead Iraq visits

Sens. John Warner (R-Va.), Carl LevinCarl LevinDevin Nunes has jeopardized the oversight role of Congress Ted Cruz wants to destroy the Senate as we know it A package proposal for repatriation MORE (D-Mich.), Jack ReedJack ReedDems introduce MAR-A-LAGO Act to publish visitor logs Senators demand Pentagon action after nude photo scandal Mattis on defense budget boost: 'America can afford survival' MORE (D-R.I.), and James InhofeJames InhofeRepeal of Obama drilling rule stalls in the Senate GOP senator: EPA 'brainwashing our kids' A guide to the committees: Senate MORE (R-Okla.) have visited Iraq more than any other senator, while at least 21 senators have not traveled to the Middle Eastern country since the war started, according to a survey of Senate offices conducted by The Hill.

[After deadline for the print edition, Inhofe's office clarified the senator has been to Iraq 6 times, contrary to the print edition. ]

As lawmakers become more vocal about the Bush administration's handling of Iraq, their hands-on experience in the country could add to, or detract from, their credibility on the matter.

James Thurber, professor of political science and director at the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University, emphasized that "people who have not been there are open to criticism from others and from not supporting the president's plan. There's nothing like seeing it [Iraq] as opposed to reading about it in reports."

It is not surprising that Inhofe, Warner, Levin and Reed have gone to Iraq many times. Warner and Levin are the top two lawmakers on the Armed Services Committee, and Inhofe and Reed are also on the powerful panel.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Joseph Biden (D-Del.) has gone to Iraq five times, while another member of the panel, Sen. Chuck HagelChuck HagelSenators tear into Marines on nude photo scandal Lobbying World Who will temper Trump after he takes office? MORE (R-Neb.), has been there on four occasions.

Sen. Tom CarperTom CarperDems introduce MAR-A-LAGO Act to publish visitor logs Making water infrastructure a priority Overnight Energy: Ethanol groups prep for fight over mandate MORE (D-Del.), who suggested this week that Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean should visit Iraq, has been there once.

Among senators who have not been to Iraq are Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad CochranThad CochranOvernight Defense: FBI chief confirms Trump campaign, Russia probe | Senators push for Afghan visas | Problems persist at veterans' suicide hotline Senators ask to include visas for Afghans in spending bill Shutdown politics return to the Senate MORE (R-Miss.), Appropriations Committee ranking member Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.).

Some offices did not return phone calls. The Hill reviewed media articles to ascertain whether those senators had gone to Iraq.

The survey shows that 46 Republican senators traveled to Iraq a total of 63 times since 2002 while 34 Democratic senators visited Iraq 45 times.

Some senators have fewer reasons to go to Iraq than others because many do not sit on committees with jurisdiction on issues affecting the country. But political analysts say it is risky to be vocal on Iraq without having been there.

After Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) last week criticized the administration on Iraq during C-SPAN's "Washington Journal," he was asked whether he had traveled to the country. Hinchey, who served in the military, said he had not, adding, "I haven't been invited by any of my Republican colleagues" to visit Iraq.

According to Josh Holly, spokesman for the House Armed Services Committee, congressional delegations, or codels, are can be authorized by any committee.

If there is a codel to Iraq, a top committee member or a member of leadership leads the visit. When spaces are available and no more committee members wish to attend, members outside the panel can participate.

A lawmaker's credibility "marginally increases by being there and being briefed," said Steven Wayne, professor of government at Georgetown University. "And one can also get the added benefit by seeing troops from their state at bases, but I think it is more for show than for education. It's 'I care. Look, I went.'

"The bottom line is it is good politics to go there and look at the situation for yourself."

Mandy Kozar contributed to this article.


Who has gone, and how often

6 visits
James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.)
Carl Levin (D-Mich.)
Jack Reed (D-R.I.)
John W. Warner (R-Va.)

5 visits
Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-Del.)

4 visits
Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.)

3 visits
Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamGOP senators pitch alternatives after House pulls ObamaCare repeal bill McCain says he hasn't met with Trump since inauguration Under pressure, Dems hold back Gorsuch support MORE (R-S.C.)
Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.)
Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellThe Memo: Winners and losers from the battle over health care GOP senators pitch alternatives after House pulls ObamaCare repeal bill Under pressure, Dems hold back Gorsuch support MORE (R-Ky.)
Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsSanders: 'What do the Russians have on Mr. Trump?' Poll: Trump controversies make him more popular among supporters More than ever, Justice must demand a special prosecutor for Trump-Russia probe MORE (R-Ala.)

2 visits
Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.)
Saxby ChamblissSaxby ChamblissWyden hammers CIA chief over Senate spying Cruz is a liability Inside Paul Ryan’s brain trust MORE (R-Ga.)
Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.)
Susan CollinsSusan CollinsGOP senators pitch alternatives after House pulls ObamaCare repeal bill Five takeaways from Labor pick’s confirmation hearing ObamaCare repeal faces last obstacle before House vote MORE (R-Maine)
John CornynJohn CornynGOP senators pitch alternatives after House pulls ObamaCare repeal bill Rand Paul takes victory lap on GOP health bill Senators push Trump on defense deals with India MORE  (R-Texas)
Jon Corzine  (D-N.J.)
Larry E. Craig (R-Idaho)
Mark Dayton (D-Minn.)
Jeff DeMint (R-S.C.)
Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.)
John KerryJohn KerryCongress, Trump need a united front to face down Iran One year ago today we declared ISIS atrocities as genocide Trump’s realism toward Iran is stabilizing force for Middle East MORE (D-Mass.)
Ben Nelson (D-Neb.)
Pat RobertsPat RobertsDems mock House GOP over lack of women in healthcare meeting Perdue vows to be chief salesman for US agriculture abroad GOP senator apologizes for mammogram joke MORE (R-Kan.)
Ted Stevens (R-Alaska)

1 visit
Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii)
Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderOvernight Regulation: Trump's Labor nominee hints at updating overtime rule Trump's Labor pick signals support for overtime pay hike Live coverage: Day three of Supreme Court nominee hearing MORE (R-Tenn.)
Wayne Allard (R-Colo.)
George Allen (R-Va.)
Evan Bayh (D-Ind.)
Jeff Bingaman-(D-N.M.)
Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerAnother day, another dollar for retirement advice rip-offs Carly Fiorina 'certainly looking at' Virginia Senate run Top Obama adviser signs with Hollywood talent agency: report MORE (D-Calif.)
Sam Brownback (R-Kan.)
Jim Bunning (R-Ky.)
Conrad Burns (R-Mont.)
Richard M. Burr (R-N.C.)
Maria CantwellMaria CantwellSenators want more security funding for Jewish centers Senate passes bill ending Obama-era land rule Senate Dems introduce bill to block Trump's revised travel order MORE (D-Wash.)
Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.)
Norm Coleman (R-Minn.)
Mike DeWine (R-Ohio)
Michael B. Enzi (R-Wyo.)
Russ Feingold (D-Wis.)
Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinDems get it wrong: 'Originalism' is mainstream, even for liberal judges Human rights leaders warn against confirming Gorsuch Feinstein sees slipping support among California voters: poll MORE (D-Calif.)
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas)
Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonOvernight Finance: Senators spar over Wall Street at SEC pick's hearing | New CBO score for ObamaCare bill | Agency signs off on Trump DC hotel lease GOP senators offer bill to require spending cuts with debt-limit hikes Schumer to House GOP: 'Turn back before it's too late' MORE (R-Ga.)
Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.)
Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.)
Richard Lugar (R-Ind.)
John McCainJohn McCainMcCain says he hasn't met with Trump since inauguration Overnight Defense: General warns State Department cuts would hurt military | Bergdahl lawyers appeal Trump motion | Senators demand action after nude photo scandal Senate lawmakers eye hearing next week for Air Force secretary: report MORE (R-Ariz.)
Patty MurrayPatty MurrayInspector general reviewing HHS decision to halt ObamaCare ads Dems mock House GOP over lack of women in healthcare meeting The Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee MORE (D-Wash.)
Bill NelsonBill NelsonThe Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Overnight Tech: Senate votes to eliminate Obama internet privacy rules | FCC chief wants to stay out of 'political debate' on fake news | Wikileaks reveals new CIA docs FCC chairman: Whether NY Times, CNN, NBC are 'fake news' is a ‘political debate’ MORE (D-Fla.)
John D. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.)
Ken Salazar (D-Colo.)
Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.)
John E. Sununu (R-N.H.)
Jim Talent (R-Mo.)
Craig Thomas (R-Wyo.)
John R. Thune (R-S.D.)
Harry ReidHarry ReidThis obscure Senate rule could let VP Mike Pence fully repeal ObamaCare once and for all Sharron Angle to challenge GOP rep in Nevada Fox's Watters asks Trump whom he would fire: Baldwin, Schumer or Zucker MORE (D-Nev.)
Gordon H. Smith (R-Ore.)

Never visited
Christopher S. Bond (R-Mo.)
Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.)
Tom CoburnTom CoburnDon't be fooled: Carper and Norton don't fight for DC Coburn: Trump's tweets aren't presidential The road ahead for America’s highways MORE (R-Okla.)
Thad Cochran (R-Miss.)
Kent Conrad (D-N.D.)
Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.)
Byron L. Dorgan(D-N.D.)
Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa)
Tom HarkinTom HarkinGrassley challenger no stranger to defying odds Clinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream Do candidates care about our health or just how much it costs? MORE (D-Iowa)
Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah)
James M. Jeffords (I-Vt.)
Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.)
Herb Kohl (D-Wis.)
Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.)
Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.)
Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiElle honors 10 at annual 'Women in Washington' event Five takeaways from Labor pick’s confirmation hearing ObamaCare repeal faces last obstacle before House vote MORE (R-Alaska)
Barack ObamaBarack ObamaThe Memo: Winners and losers from the battle over health care Ex-Trump aide: Tillerson is ‘part of the swamp’ Rand Paul takes victory lap on GOP health bill MORE (D-Ill.)
Mark PryorMark PryorMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Cotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm MORE (D-Ark.)
Rick Santorum (R-Pa.)
Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine)
Arlen Specter (R-Pa.)

Didn't return calls
Max BaucusMax BaucusGOP hasn’t reached out to centrist Dem senators Five reasons why Tillerson is likely to get through Business groups express support for Branstad nomination MORE (D-Mont.)
Bob Bennett (R-Utah)
Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.)
Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.)
John Ensign (R-Nev.)
Bill Frist (R-Tenn.)
Judd Gregg (R-N.H.)
Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii)
Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.)
Trent Lott (R-Miss.)
Mel Martinez (R-Fla.)
Paul S. Sarbanes (D-Md.)
Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.)
Debbie StabenowDebbie StabenowThe Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Perdue says he will advocate for agriculture spending RNC drops six-figure ad buy for Supreme Court, healthcare fight MORE (D-Mich.)
David VitterDavid VitterFormer GOP rep joins K Street lobbying firm Capitol Counsel Lobbying World Mercury brings on former Sen. Vitter, two others MORE (R-La.)
George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio)
Ron WydenRon WydenThe Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Overnight Regulation: Senate moves to strike Obama-era internet privacy rules Overnight Tech: Senate votes to eliminate Obama internet privacy rules | FCC chief wants to stay out of 'political debate' on fake news | Wikileaks reveals new CIA docs MORE (D-Ore.)