Warner, Levin, Reed and Inhofe lead Iraq visits

Sens. John Warner (R-Va.), Carl LevinCarl LevinPresident Trump, listen to candidate Trump and keep Volcker Rule Republicans can learn from John McCain’s heroism Trump and GOP wise to keep tax reform and infrastructure separate MORE (D-Mich.), Jack ReedJack ReedTop Armed Services Dem: Trump's North Korea 'ad lib' not helpful Mattis warns North Korea of 'destruction of its people' Closing old military bases will help our defense — and our communities MORE (D-R.I.), and James InhofeJames InhofeWasting America’s nuclear opportunity McCain absence adds to GOP agenda’s uncertainty GOP signals infrastructure bill must wait 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 HagelSpy agencies changed rules, making it easier to unmask members of Congress Pentagon withholding nuclear weapons inspection results: report Lobbying World MORE (R-Neb.), has been there on four occasions.

Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperSenators push for possible FCC enforcement over Lifeline fraud Lacking White House plan, Senate focuses on infrastructure Governors-turned-senators meet to talk healthcare 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 CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranGOP senators ask Trump to hold off on Venezuelan oil sanctions Both sides of the aisle agree — telemedicine is the future Overnight Finance: GOP offers measure to repeal arbitration rule | Feds fine Exxon M for Russian sanctions violations | Senate panel sticks with 2017 funding levels for budget | Trump tax nominee advances | Trump unveils first reg agenda 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 GrahamGraham: Trump's Charlottesville rhetoric 'dividing Americans, not healing them' OPINION: Congress should censure Trump for his unfit conduct Supporting 'Dreamers' is our civic and moral duty MORE (R-S.C.)
Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.)
Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellTrump’s isolation grows Ellison: Trump has 'level of sympathy' for neo-Nazis, white supremacists Trump touts endorsement of second-place finisher in Alabama primary MORE (R-Ky.)
Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) SessionsFBI opens tip line requesting information on Charlottesville rally Sessions rails against Chicago during visit to Miami DOJ warrant of Trump resistance site triggers alarm MORE (R-Ala.)

2 visits
Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.)
Saxby ChamblissSaxby ChamblissFormer GOP senator: Let Dems engage on healthcare bill OPINION: Left-wing politics will be the demise of the Democratic Party GOP hopefuls crowd Georgia special race MORE (R-Ga.)
Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.)
Susan CollinsSusan CollinsOPINION: Congress should censure Trump for his unfit conduct No. 2 Senate Republican backs McConnell in Trump fight The fight to protect the Affordable Care Act isn’t over MORE (R-Maine)
John CornynJohn CornynImmigration battlefield widens for Trump, GOP Congressional investigations — not just special counsels — strengthen our democracy Wrath of right falls on Google 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 needs to assert the war power against a dangerous president Sinclair and 'Big Media': The outrage that caused the outrage Tillerson sets a lost State Department on the right course MORE (D-Mass.)
Ben Nelson (D-Neb.)
Pat RobertsPat RobertsNo. 2 Senate Republican backs McConnell in Trump fight Overnight Healthcare: McConnell warns Senate not to block repeal debate | Insurers knock Cruz proposal | WH tries to discredit CBO | Lawmakers propose .1B NIH funding boost Trump: I’ll be ‘very angry’ if Senate doesn’t pass ObamaCare repeal bill MORE (R-Kan.)
Ted Stevens (R-Alaska)

1 visit
Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii)
Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderTrump to make ObamaCare payments to insurers for August CBO: ObamaCare premiums could rise 20 percent if Trump ends payments CBO to release report Tuesday on ending ObamaCare insurer payments MORE (R-Tenn.)
Wayne Allard (R-Colo.)
George Allen (R-Va.)
Evan Bayh (D-Ind.)
Jeff Bingaman-(D-N.M.)
Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerTime is now to address infrastructure needs Tom Steyer testing waters for Calif. gubernatorial bid Another day, another dollar for retirement advice rip-offs MORE (D-Calif.)
Sam Brownback (R-Kan.)
Jim Bunning (R-Ky.)
Conrad Burns (R-Mont.)
Richard M. Burr (R-N.C.)
Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellDemocrats demand changes to FCC Republican nominee's confirmation Bipartisanship? It's happening to secure America's energy future Senate confirms Trump's nominee for No. 2 Interior post 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 FeinsteinTrump's Democratic tax dilemma Feinstein: Trump immigration policies 'cruel and arbitrary' The Memo: Could Trump’s hard line work on North Korea? MORE (D-Calif.)
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas)
Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonTrump signs Veterans Affairs bill at New Jersey golf club No. 2 Senate Republican backs McConnell in Trump fight Savings through success in foreign assistance MORE (R-Ga.)
Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.)
Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.)
Richard Lugar (R-Ind.)
John McCainJohn McCainBush biographer: Trump has moved the goalpost for civilized society White House to pressure McConnell on ObamaCare McCain: Trump needs to state difference between bigots and those fighting hate MORE (R-Ariz.)
Patty MurrayPatty MurrayCBO to release report Tuesday on ending ObamaCare insurer payments OPINION | Progressives, now's your chance to secure healthcare for all McConnell open to bipartisan deal on health insurance payments MORE (D-Wash.)
Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonThe five kinds of Republicans who could primary Trump Overnight Tech: Senate confirms two FCC commissioners | Dems want more time on net neutrality | Tech groups push White House on 'startup visa' Senate confirms two new FCC commissioners 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 ReidOPINION | 5 ways Democrats can win back power in the states THE MEMO: Trump's base cheers attacks on McConnell It's time for McConnell to fight with Trump instead of against him MORE (D-Nev.)
Gordon H. Smith (R-Ore.)

Never visited
Christopher S. Bond (R-Mo.)
Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.)
Tom CoburnTom CoburnAl Franken: 'I make fun of the people who deserved it' The more complex the tax code, the more the wealthy benefit Congress, stop using our nation's military policy for political purposes 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 HarkinDistance education: Tumultuous today and yesterday Grassley challenger no stranger to defying odds Clinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream 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 MurkowskiFeds to sell 14 million barrels from oil reserve Immigration battlefield widens for Trump, GOP Trump barrage stuns McConnell and his allies MORE (R-Alaska)
Barack ObamaBarack ObamaCongress needs to assert the war power against a dangerous president CNN's Don Lemon: Anyone supporting Trump ‘complicit' in racism DOJ warrant of Trump resistance site triggers alarm 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 BaucusTrump has yet to travel west as president Healthcare profiles in courage and cowardice OPINION | On Trump-Russia probe, don’t underestimate Sen. Chuck Grassley 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 StabenowHead of McConnell-backed PAC: We're 'very interested' in Kid Rock Senate campaign Juan Williams: Trump and the new celebrity politics Senate Dems unveil trade agenda MORE (D-Mich.)
David VitterDavid VitterYou're fired! Why it's time to ditch the Fed's community banker seat Overnight Energy: Trump set to propose sharp cuts to EPA, energy spending Former La. official tapped as lead offshore drilling regulator MORE (R-La.)
George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio)
Ron WydenRon WydenTrump's Democratic tax dilemma Senate Dems push Trump admin to protect nursing home residents' right to sue Overnight Finance: Trump-Russia probe reportedly expands to possible financial crimes | Cruel September looms for GOP | Senate clears financial nominees | Mulvaney reverses on debt ceiling MORE (D-Ore.)