Washington, DC — Senator Ted Budd (R-NC) has returned from a bipartisan, bicameral congressional delegation (CODEL) to the Middle East, which included stops in Israel, Egypt, Qatar, and Bahrain.
The delegation was led by Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) and included Representatives Darrell Issa (R-CA), Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), Ann Wagner (R-MO), Don Norcross (D-NJ), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), and Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA).
On the trip, Senator Budd and his colleagues toured Kibbutz Nir Oz, one of the communities devastated by the October 7th massacre by Hamas terrorists. He also personally met with former hostage Aviva Siegel, wife of North Carolina native Keith Siegel, who remains held in Gaza. The lawmakers also met with top Israeli officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mossad Director David Barnea.
The lawmakers then met with the Prime Minister of Qatar, to whom Senator Budd sent a strong message that Qatar must do more to secure the immediate and safe release of all of the hostages. Qatar, a Major Non-NATO Ally of the United States, hosts members of Hamas’ senior leadership in Doha, and is mediating negotiations for the release of American and Israeli hostages held by Hamas.
The delegation also visited U.S. military members from North Carolina at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), and U.S. 5th Fleet at Naval Support Activity Bahrain.
Sen. Budd said in a statement:
“First and foremost, I’d like to thank Senator Joni Ernst for leading this critical congressional delegation to the Middle East. At a time of incredible instability, when evil and terror are taking advantage of a weak U.S. president, now is the time to reassure our allies and partners that they have a friend in the United States.”
“While in Israel, I was particularly moved by our visit to Kibbutz Nir Oz where Hamas terrorists massacred innocent Israeli civilians and took dozens hostage, including Americans. To see the results of that barbarism first hand only reinforces my resolve to do everything I can to secure the unconditional and immediate release of all of the hostages. That is exactly the message we sent to the Qatari Prime Minister: His government must do more.”
“I am always inspired when I visit U.S. servicemembers doing their duty overseas. Their courage and dedication is all the proof you need that the future of America is bright.”
Senator Budd and colleagues toured Kibbutz Nir Oz, less than two miles from the Gaza border:
Senator Budd met with the families of hostages, including Aviva Siegel, a former hostage and wife of North Carolina native Keith Siegel, who remains held in Gaza:
Senator Budd and colleagues met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Mossad Director Barnea:
Senator Budd and colleagues met with Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani:
Senator Budd and colleagues met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi:
Senator Budd and colleagues visited Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), and U.S. 5th Fleet at Naval Support Activity Bahrain. There he met with U.S. military members from North Carolina: