Newsletter Signup! Stay up-to-date by signing up to receive my newsletter. Click Here


Flag Requests

Visiting D.C.

Help With Casework

Student Resources

Meeting Requests

Grant Assistance

Senators Budd & Ernst Return from Middle East: Push Hostage Release, Thank U.S. Troops

Washington, DC — Senators Ted Budd (R-NC) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) have returned from a congressional delegation (CODEL) to the Middle East, which included stops in Israel, Iraq, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

On the trip, Senators Budd and Ernst received first-hand updates on the state of the hostage negotiations from top U.S. and Israeli officials including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They also hosted the families of American hostages, including the family of North Carolina native, Keith Siegel. 

Sen. Budd said in a statement:

“I’d like to thank Senator Joni Ernst for joining me on this important visit to Israel and our troops in the Middle East. It is clear that the United States must fully support Israel as they increase military pressure on Hamas terrorists to release hostages, including eight Americans.

“The world needs strong American leadership. Without a U.S. presence, the world becomes a much more dangerous place. We are incredibly grateful for the service and sacrifice of the brave men and women who serve our country in uniform around the world everyday.”

Sen. Ernst, the first female combat veteran to serve in the U.S. Senate, said:

“214 days after Iran-backed Hamas attacked Israel, our fellow citizens are still being held hostage. We must bring them home, while ensuring Israel has the means to defend itself against ongoing threats from Iran and its terror proxies. The United States must stand with our ally and friend, and urge our partners in the region to do the same.

“Our brave servicemembers in the Middle East continue to face attacks from Tehran-backed militias, yet they are undeterred as they work together to push back with our regional partners, due in part to my DEFEND Act. The message at every meeting on this mission was abundantly clear: America’s leadership and clarity at this moment is imperative.”


While in Israel, Senators Budd and Ernst met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and discussed hostage negotiations, military operations in Gaza, and combating antisemitism around the world:

Senators Budd and Ernst then hosted the families of American hostages, including the family of North Carolina native, Keith Siegel:

While in Iraq and northeast Syria, Senators Budd and Ernst met with U.S. forces who are conducting operations in the region to defeat ISIS and counter Iranian aggression.

The senators received briefings from U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Philip J. Ryan, commander of the Combined Special Operations Joint Task Force-Levant, and North Carolina National Guardsman Brig. Gen. Michael Ecker, Director, Military Advisor Group, Combined Joint Task Force, Operation Inherent Resolve.

The senators also greeted U.S. soldiers, many of whom are from North Carolina and Iowa:

While in the UAE, Senator Budd met with F-15E pilots from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina, and thanked them for their service:


On October 25, 2023, Senator Budd first spoke about the hostage situation in Gaza on the Senate floor, where he announced his intention “to hold all humanitarian aid to Gaza until each and every American hostage is home and is safe.”

On November 6, 2023, Senator Budd met with Qatari Ambassador Meshal Al Thani in Senator Budd’s Washington, D.C. office. In that meeting, he strongly urged the Qatari government to use their leverage on Hamas leaders currently residing in Doha to immediately release all hostages, and hold those same Hamas leaders accountable once the hostage situation is fully resolved.

On November 26, 2023, Senator Budd reacted to the release of Keith Siegel’s wife, Aviva, saying, “While we are encouraged by the government of Qatar’s efforts to mediate the release of some of the hostages, we renew our call to their government to exert pressure on Hamas leadership to release each and every hostage immediately and unconditionally.”

On November 28, 2023, Senator Budd spoke on the Senate floor and called out Qatar for its continued hosting of Hamas terrorist leaders, saying, “We need to tell our friends in Doha loudly and clearly: Qatar is accepting a significant liability with its pro-Hamas policy.”

On December 13, 2023, Senator Budd sent a holiday message of support to the hostages and their families in a speech on the Senate floor, saying, “I want every one of these family members to know that our country is behind them, we support them, and we are praying for them.”

On January 10, 2024, Senator Budd returned from a congressional delegation (CODEL) to the Middle East, which included stops in Israel, Egypt, Qatar, and Bahrain. The focus of the delegation’s meetings across the region was on securing the release of hostages. 

On the trip, Senator Budd and his colleagues toured one of the communities devastated by the October 7th massacre by Hamas terrorists. He personally spoke with former hostage Aviva Siegel, and met with top Israeli officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mossad Director David Barnea.

Senator Budd then met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and 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.

On January 15, 2024, Senators Budd and Joni Ernst (R-IA) published an op-ed marking the 100th day of captivity for the hostages, writing, “As long as Americans remain captive to these barbaric thugs, the latter is the victor. Allowing Americans to suffer under the yoke of terrorists is a win for evil around the world and a boon for Iran’s proxies.”

On January 25, 2024, Senator Budd spoke on the Senate floor and delivered a sharp message to the government of Qatar: “Our patience has run out. Time is up. Either pressure Hamas leaders to release the hostages now, or expel them from your land. It’s that simple. The United States of America will be watching.”

On March 7, 2024, Senators Budd and Tillis invited the family of Keith Siegel to be their guests at the president’s State of the Union Address. Keith’s sister Lucy and niece Hanna have accepted the Senators’ invitation.

On March 15, 2024, Senator Budd joined a joint statement from Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Jim Risch (R-ID), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as well as five other Senators stating, “If Hamas refuses reasonable negotiations, there is no reason for Qatar to continue hosting Hamas’ political office or any of its members in Doha.”

On March 26, 2024, Senator Budd and Senator Ernst issued a joint statement calling on the State of Qatar to immediately expel all members of Hamas’ political office currently residing in Doha.

On April 9, 2024, Senator Budd introduced the ‘Reviewing Qatar’s Major Non- NATO Ally Status Act’, which would require the Secretary of State to formally certify that Qatar has expelled or agreed to extradite to the United States any individuals bearing responsibility for the terror attack on October 7, 2023. If the Secretary of State cannot make this certification in good faith, then the President is required to immediately terminate the designation of the State of Qatar as a major non-NATO ally.

On April 10, 2024, Senator Budd attempted to invoke unanimous consent on the Senate floor to pass the ‘Reviewing Qatar’s Major Non- NATO Ally Status Act’, but was blocked. He said, “The time for talking is over, and the time for action is now. If we don’t see action, then Qatar must face consequences. At the end of the day, this bill represents another step towards securing the freedom of our fellow Americans.”

On April 27, 2024, Senator Budd released a statement after Hamas terrorists released a video showing North Carolina native Keith Siegel. “We are encouraged to see that Keith Siegel is alive, and we once again demand that Hamas release Keith and all of the hostages immediately and unconditionally. The release of this video for purposes of propaganda and psychological torture is further example of the true, evil nature of Hamas. We remain committed to bringing Keith and all hostages home,” Budd said.


Signup for Newsletter Updates

Latest News