Warner, Levin, Reed and Inhofe lead Iraq visits

Sens. John Warner (R-Va.), Carl LevinCarl LevinFight for taxpayers draws fire Gun debate shows value of the filibuster House won't vote on Navy ship-naming restrictions MORE (D-Mich.), Jack ReedJack ReedMcChrystal backs McCain's Pentagon reform proposal Overnight Defense: Biden hits Trump on national security | Dems raise pressure over refugees | Graham vows fight over spending caps Graham: Opponents of lifting military spending caps are 'a-holes' MORE (D-R.I.), and James InhofeJames InhofeMenendez rails against Puerto Rico bill for 4 hours on floor EPA proposes climate rule incentives despite court hold GOP chairman: EPA could ‘restructure every industrial sector’ 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 HagelThere's still time for another third-party option Hagel says NATO deployment could spark a new Cold War with Russia Overnight Defense: House panel unveils 5B defense spending bill MORE (R-Neb.), has been there on four occasions.

Sen. Tom CarperTom CarperWhite House seeks distance from ISIS transcript edit White House: Redaction decision was all Justice Dem senator: CDC already has authority to study guns 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 CochranWeek ahead: Senators face unfinished defense work Week ahead: GOP to unveil ObamaCare replacement plan Senate panel breaks with House on cuts to IRS 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 GrahamDefense contingency misuse threatens national security Gun-control supporters plan next steps versus NRA Bipartisan gun measure survives test vote MORE (R-S.C.)
Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.)
Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellTrump hires Rand Paul's former digital director: report Overnight Finance: Trump threatens NAFTA withdrawal | Senate poised for crucial Puerto Rico vote | Ryan calls for UK trade deal | Senate Dems block Zika funding deal Overnight Healthcare: Blame game over Zika funding MORE (R-Ky.)
Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsTrump hopes for boost from Brexit vote GOP senators: Brexit vote a wake-up call Sessions warns of 'radical' Clinton immigration policy 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 CollinsDemocrats stage protest during brief House session Reid: McConnell silence on Trump 'speaks volumes' The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Maine)
John CornynJohn CornynOvernight Finance: Trump threatens NAFTA withdrawal | Senate poised for crucial Puerto Rico vote | Ryan calls for UK trade deal | Senate Dems block Zika funding deal Senate faces critical vote on Puerto Rico McConnell tees up House Puerto Rico bill 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 KerryBudowsky: Save Europe, revote Brexit White House: We were prepared for Brexit vote After Brexit vote, is anything left of Britain? MORE (D-Mass.)
Ben Nelson (D-Neb.)
Pat RobertsPat RobertsUSDA extends comment period for 'certified organic' animal rule Senate contradicts itself on Gitmo GOP senators propose sending ISIS fighters to Gitmo MORE (R-Kan.)
Ted Stevens (R-Alaska)

1 visit
Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii)
Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderBipartisan gun measure survives test vote Overnight Healthcare: GOP plan marks new phase in ObamaCare fight Stoddard: The great Trump rebellion MORE (R-Tenn.)
Wayne Allard (R-Colo.)
George Allen (R-Va.)
Evan Bayh (D-Ind.)
Jeff Bingaman-(D-N.M.)
Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerCalif. Dem missed votes, sit-in on trip to Spain Hispanic Caucus PAC looks to flex its muscles in 2016 Dems who sat out the sit-in offer array of reasons MORE (D-Calif.)
Sam Brownback (R-Kan.)
Jim Bunning (R-Ky.)
Conrad Burns (R-Mont.)
Richard M. Burr (R-N.C.)
Maria CantwellMaria CantwellMenendez rails against Puerto Rico bill for 4 hours on floor Week ahead: Wait drags on for energy talks The Hill's 12:30 Report 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 FeinsteinOvernight Cybersecurity: Hackers hit Brexit petition Senate Intel leader: ISIS using encrypted apps to plan attacks Meet the man who sparked the Democratic revolt on guns MORE (D-Calif.)
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas)
Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonSenate faces critical vote on Puerto Rico GOP senators: Obama bathroom guidance is 'not appropriate' Amateur theatrics: An insult to Africa MORE (R-Ga.)
Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.)
Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.)
Richard Lugar (R-Ind.)
John McCainJohn McCainOvernight Defense: Benghazi report fallout | Nearly 50 dead after Istanbul attack The Trail 2016: 11 hours, 800 pages, 0 changed minds McChrystal backs McCain's Pentagon reform proposal MORE (R-Ariz.)
Patty MurrayPatty MurrayBlame game begins on Zika funding McConnell pledges redo vote on Zika after break Senate Democrats want new round of Zika talks MORE (D-Wash.)
Bill NelsonBill NelsonCongress prepping short-term FAA bill Overnight Finance: McConnell tees up Puerto Rico vote | Britain's credit rating slashed | Clinton vows to appoint trade prosecutor McConnell tees up House Puerto Rico bill 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 ReidOvernight Finance: Trump threatens NAFTA withdrawal | Senate poised for crucial Puerto Rico vote | Ryan calls for UK trade deal | Senate Dems block Zika funding deal The Trail 2016: 11 hours, 800 pages, 0 changed minds Senate faces critical vote on Puerto Rico MORE (D-Nev.)
Gordon H. Smith (R-Ore.)

Never visited
Christopher S. Bond (R-Mo.)
Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.)
Tom CoburnTom CoburnCoburn: I haven't seen 'self-discipline' from Trump McCain: No third-party foes coming for Trump Tough choice for vulnerable GOP senators: Embrace or reject Trump 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 HarkinDo candidates care about our health or just how much it costs? The Hill's 12:30 Report Mark Mellman: Parsing the primary processes 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 MurkowskiGOP senator praises Supreme Court's abortion ruling Kerry visits Arctic Circle to see climate impacts Senate panel clears EPA spending bill, blocking rules MORE (R-Alaska)
Barack ObamaBarack ObamaTrump on NAFTA: Renegotiate or withdraw Reid: Rubio should be sued over missed votes Nigel Farage: Trump better for UK than Obama MORE (D-Ill.)
Mark PryorMark PryorEx-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm Top Democrats are no advocates for DC statehood Ex-Sen. Landrieu joins law and lobby firm MORE (D-Ark.)
Rick Santorum (R-Pa.)
Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine)
Arlen Specter (R-Pa.)

Didn't return calls
Max BaucusMax BaucusWyden unveils business tax proposal College endowments under scrutiny The chaotic fight for ObamaCare 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 StabenowObama official pledges 'adjustments' to controversial Medicare proposal Waterways bill eyed as solution for Flint Clinton to headline fundraiser with Senate, House Democrats: report MORE (D-Mich.)
David VitterDavid VitterFed chairwoman blasts Trump on debt Senate campaign posts private conversation on Facebook Rand Paul endorses in La. Senate race MORE (R-La.)
George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio)
Ron WydenRon WydenSenate faces critical vote on Puerto Rico Reid backs House Puerto Rico bill Obama official pledges 'adjustments' to controversial Medicare proposal MORE (D-Ore.)