WASHINGTON (JTA) – Rep. Steny Hoyer, the second-ranked Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, again will lead fellow Democrats on a tour of Israel funded by AIPAC’s educational affiliate.
Two freshmen, Reps. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), said they would be joining this week’s visit, which will include meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders as well as tours of U.S.-funded defense systems, including the short-range Iron Dome anti-missile program.
Such tours, funded by the American Israel Education Foundation, the educational affiliate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, routinely take place during the August recess of off-election years and are designed to introduce freshmen to Israel-related issues. Hoyer, the minority whip from Maryland, has led a number of the tours.
An AIPAC official confirmed that 37 Democrats would be going. A spokeswoman for Hoyer said that 31 of them are freshmen, out of 38 in this class of Democrats.
The Democrats’ tour, which lasts about a week, usually is followed by a similar tour for Republican freshmen. In past years the GOP visit has been led by Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the House majority leader and the highest-ranking Jewish member of Congress.
Frankel’s release said such a GOP tour was in the works. A JTA question to Cantor’s office, posed over the weekend, was pending.