WASHINGTON -- Massachusetts congressmen are dusting off their passports and heading overseas for fact-finding missions as Congress begins its annual Easter recess.
Representative James McGovern, Democrat of Worcester, left for Africa on Friday for a firsthand look at hunger problems and how various US food aid programs are working. He planned stops in Ethiopia, Kenya, and possibly Sudan's war-torn Darfur region.
Representative Richard Neal, Democrat of Springfield, is arriving in Ireland today as part of a congressional delegation traveling to Dublin, Belfast, and London. The trip comes at a critical juncture in Northern Ireland's peace process. Protestant and Catholic leaders recently announced a power-sharing deal in hopes of ending decades of hostility.
The group will meet with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and other leaders in the region.
Representative Stephen Lynch, Democrat of Boston, who heads the House Task Force on Terrorist Financing and Proliferation, is leading a congressional delegation to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Jordan, and Turkey.
Lynch plans to meet with banking officials from several countries to explore more effective ways to crack down on the flow of money to terrorists. In Iraq, he also hopes to gauge the impact of President Bush's recent increase of US troops on the war effort.
Representative John Tierney, Democrat of Salem, also has terrorism on his agenda. He plans to meet with government officials in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Representative William Delahunt, Democrat of Quincy, will meet with officials developing so-called "deepwater" wind energy projects. He wants to explore whether "deepwater" projects could be an attractive alternative to Cape Wind in waters further from the shore.
Representative Barney Frank, meanwhile, is leading a congressional delegation to England and Brussels to discuss financial issues. Frank, Democrat of Newton, is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.