by Max Brantley
The $36,000 weeklong trip preceding Labor Day highlights the extraordinary sums private groups must pay for international travel by members, especially in regions of conflict.
The travel was sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation, the charity arm of pro-Israel lobbying giant AIPAC. About $14,000 was spent on transportation, $4,000 on lodging and meals and $18,000 on other expenses, which includes a $7,000 bill for security in a region characterized by volatility.
During the visit he met with several top Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and attended several discussions on the Iranian nuclear threat to the Jewish state. Cotton, AIPAC and the Israeli government have come out as harsh critics of the Obama administration's nuclear deal with Iran.
Cotton's trip is only surpassed in cost by trips by former Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.) and Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) who traveled to Australia and South Sudan, respectively.