Warner, Levin, Reed and Inhofe lead Iraq visits

Sens. John Warner (R-Va.), Carl LevinCarl LevinA package proposal for repatriation Silencing of Warren another example of hyperpartisan Senate GOP going nuclear over Gorsuch might destroy filibuster forever MORE (D-Mich.), Jack ReedJack ReedA guide to the committees: Senate Cruz: Supreme Court 'likely' to uphold Trump order Schumer: Trump should see 'handwriting on the wall,' drop order MORE (D-R.I.), and James InhofeJames InhofeA guide to the committees: Senate GOP considers ways to ‘modernize’ endangered species law GOP bill would eliminate Consumer Financial Protection Bureau 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 HagelWho will temper Trump after he takes office? Hagel: I’m ‘encouraged’ by Trump’s Russia outreach Want to 'drain the swamp'? Implement regular order MORE (R-Neb.), has been there on four occasions.

Sen. Tom CarperTom CarperA guide to the committees: Senate Senate advances Trump's Commerce pick Warren: Trump's EPA pick the 'attorney general for Exxon' 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 CochranA guide to the committees: Senate Mulvaney sworn in as White House budget chief Senate confirms Mulvaney to be Trump’s budget chief 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 GrahamThe Hill's 12:30 Report Back to the future: Congress should look to past for Fintech going forward CNN to host town hall featuring John McCain, Lindsey Graham MORE (R-S.C.)
Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.)
Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellThough flawed, complex Medicaid block grants have fighting chance Sanders: 'If you don't have the guts to face your constituents,' you shouldn't be in Congress McConnell: Trump's speech should be 'tweet free' MORE (R-Ky.)
Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsPelosi calls for DOJ probe of Priebus on FBI, Russia Roger Stone: Marijuana crackdown would be 'huge mistake' Ex-Education head: Trump transgender rollback ‘thoughtless, cruel’ 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 CollinsLeaked ObamaCare bill would defund Planned Parenthood GOP lawmaker at town hall calls on Trump to release his tax returns GOP senator won't vote to defund Planned Parenthood MORE (R-Maine)
John CornynJohn CornynCornyn: Border wall 'makes absolutely no sense' in some areas Ryan on border: ‘We will get this done’ Ryan tours Mexican border on horseback 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 KerryNew York Knicks owner gave 0K to pro-Trump group A bold, common sense UN move for the Trump administration Former Obama officials say Netanyahu turned down secret peace deal: AP MORE (D-Mass.)
Ben Nelson (D-Neb.)
Pat RobertsPat RobertsThe buzzword everyone can agree on in the health debate: RESTORE A guide to the committees: Senate Angst in GOP over Trump's trade agenda MORE (R-Kan.)
Ted Stevens (R-Alaska)

1 visit
Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii)
Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderGOP governors confront Medicaid divide A guide to the committees: Senate Overnight Healthcare: Trump officials weigh fate of birth control mandate | House, DOJ seek delay in ObamaCare lawsuit MORE (R-Tenn.)
Wayne Allard (R-Colo.)
George Allen (R-Va.)
Evan Bayh (D-Ind.)
Jeff Bingaman-(D-N.M.)
Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerCarly Fiorina 'certainly looking at' Virginia Senate run Top Obama adviser signs with Hollywood talent agency: report 
Democrats vie for chance to take on Trump as California governor MORE (D-Calif.)
Sam Brownback (R-Kan.)
Jim Bunning (R-Ky.)
Conrad Burns (R-Mont.)
Richard M. Burr (R-N.C.)
Maria CantwellMaria CantwellA guide to the committees: Senate Trump signs bill undoing Obama coal mining rule Nine Dem senators say hiring freeze hurting trade enforcement 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 FeinsteinA guide to the committees: Senate Dem: Trump's China trademark looks like a quid pro quo Senate advances Trump's Commerce pick MORE (D-Calif.)
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas)
Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonA guide to the committees: Senate GOP rep on Trump: 'God has used imperfect people to do great things before' GOP senators unveil bill to give Congress control of consumer bureau budget MORE (R-Ga.)
Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.)
Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.)
Richard Lugar (R-Ind.)
John McCainJohn McCainDrug importation won't save dollars or lives Dem rep Charlie Crist files for divorce Why the GOP cannot sweep its Milo scandal under the rug MORE (R-Ariz.)
Patty MurrayPatty MurrayA guide to the committees: Senate Overnight Healthcare: Trump officials weigh fate of birth control mandate | House, DOJ seek delay in ObamaCare lawsuit Top lawmakers from both parties: 'Vaccines save lives' MORE (D-Wash.)
Bill NelsonBill NelsonA guide to the committees: Senate Senate advances Trump's Commerce pick CMS nominee breezes through confirmation hearing 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 ReidSanders and Schumer are right: Ellison for DNC chair The Hill's 12:30 Report Hopes rise for law to expand access to experimental drugs MORE (D-Nev.)
Gordon H. Smith (R-Ore.)

Never visited
Christopher S. Bond (R-Mo.)
Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.)
Tom CoburnTom CoburnCoburn: Trump's tweets aren't presidential The road ahead for America’s highways Rethinking taxation 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 MurkowskiGOP governors confront Medicaid divide GOP senator won't vote to defund Planned Parenthood A guide to the committees: Senate MORE (R-Alaska)
Barack ObamaBarack ObamaTom Perez embodies the Democratic Party. This is why he should lead it. Ex-Bush spokesman: 'Media should calm down' on limited WH briefing South Sudan: Another African tragedy MORE (D-Ill.)
Mark PryorMark PryorCotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm Top Democrats are no advocates for DC statehood MORE (D-Ark.)
Rick Santorum (R-Pa.)
Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine)
Arlen Specter (R-Pa.)

Didn't return calls
Max BaucusMax BaucusFive reasons why Tillerson is likely to get through Business groups express support for Branstad nomination The mysterious sealed opioid report fuels speculation 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 StabenowA guide to the committees: Senate Trump's pick to lead Medicare won't say if she supports negotiating prices with drug companies Overnight Finance: Fed chief tries to stay above partisan fray | Bill would eliminate consumer agency | Trump signs repeal of SEC rule on foreign payments MORE (D-Mich.)
David VitterDavid VitterMercury brings on former Sen. Vitter, two others Lobbying World Bottom Line MORE (R-La.)
George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio)
Ron WydenRon WydenMnuchin aiming for tax reform by August Dems rip Trump administration for revoking Obama's transgender directive IPAB’s Medicare cuts will threaten seniors’ access to care MORE (D-Ore.)