Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is reportedly set to embark on a taxpayer-funded trip to Africa, which will include visits to Zambia, South Africa, Botswana, and Morocco. The trip is being marketed as a “fact-finding mission” to study the fight against HIV/AIDS and the impact of U.S. government investments in the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), according to a detailed itinerary report obtained by Punchbowl News.
The itinerary, obtained by Punchbowl News, includes site visits, meetings, safari trips, and informal meals designed to offer a frontline look at the issue.
The trip is not a GOP exclusive event, as Graham will be joined on the trip by a total of five Democrat senators, including; Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chris Coons (D-DE), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Mark Kelly (D-AZ). Cindy McCain, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. food and agriculture agencies, will also join the trip.
Despite the focus on HIV/AIDS, the itinerary includes a safari in Botswana and a visit to Victoria Falls. Punchbowl News notes that the itinerary describes “conservation observations” on Friday and Saturday, which appear to be safari trips. The senators have no history in medicine, although Coons was named an Honorary Doctor in Humane Letters by Delaware State University in 2018.
“On Friday, the group will head to Botswana, where the itinerary says the recommended attire is ‘rugged casual.’ Friday and Saturday are packed with ‘conservation observations,’ which appear to be safari trips.”
The CODEL’s final day will be spent without official business in Casablanca before the return to the United States next Monday. Critics argue that the taxpayer-funded trip is more about leisure than a fact-finding mission, especially given the inclusion of a safari in the itinerary. The fact that none of the senators have a background in medicine has also raised concerns about the purpose of the trip.
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