AP NEWS

Cicilline leads bipartisan delegation to Middle East

December 25, 2019 GMT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline is heading up a bipartisan delegation to visit U.S. troops deployed to the Middle East.

The Democrat left Bahrain on Wednesday for an undisclosed location after meeting with deployed U.S. military personnel and State Department officials. He is one of eight U.S. House members on the surprise trip, which began Sunday. The visit to the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command in Manama, Bahrain, was the group’s second stop.

The delegation spent part of the day serving Christmas lunch to the service members stationed at command center.

The visit is intended to express personal thanks to members of the armed services. The lawmakers plan to meet with U.S. military leaders and regional economic and diplomatic officials.

“We owe our service members and veterans an enormous debt of gratitude,” Cicilline said in a statement announcing the visit. “It’s on all of us who serve in public office to honor their service with the resources and benefits they have earned.”

During a stop in Kuwait on Tuesday, Cicilline delivered care packages to service members from Rhode Island. He also visited one of his staffers who has been deployed overseas since July: Rhode Island Air National Guard Staff Sergeant Max Silva, who works as a veterans affairs advocate in Cicilline’s Pawtucket office.

The delegation also includes Republican U.S. Reps. Lee Zeldin, of New York; Brian Fitzpatrick, of Pennsylvania; and Aumua Amata Radewagen, the non-voting Congressional delegate from American Samoa. Other Democrats on the trip are Max Rose, of New York; Susan Wild, of Pennsylvania; Dean Phillips, of Minnesota; and Gil Cisneros, of California.

Details of the group’s upcoming events haven’t been announced as a security precaution, but Cicilline’s office said the delegation will spend “the next few days” visiting additional countries in the Middle East before returning home.