PHOTOS: Bustos, a Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, Celebrated Independence Day with Illinois Troops in Middle East

WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17), a member of the powerful House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, has returned from a Congressional Mission to the Middle East that included stops in Qatar and Israel. Congresswoman Bustos visited as part of a delegation led by Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-22), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa and International Terrorism, and was joined by Members of Congress from both parties. During this trip, Congresswoman Bustos, spent the Fourth of July with active duty troops from Illinois. In addition to the Middle East, Congresswoman Bustos visited Souda Bay Naval Support Activity, a key military asset in Greece, and met with political and security leaders in Switzerland and Cyprus.

“Our servicemembers defend the freedoms we all hold dear, which is why it was such an honor to travel to the Middle East and celebrate Independence Day with men and women in uniform,” said Congresswoman Bustos, a member of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee. “On this Congressional Mission, I saw firsthand some of our critical military assets in the Middle East – as well as visited with key partners to defend Israel and deter Iranian aggression in the region. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I’ll work tirelessly to bolster our national security and ensure our military has the resources it needs to keep Illinoisans safe.”

“I was proud to lead such a prominent delegation of my colleagues to countries with strategic ties to the United States,” said Congressman Deutch, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa and International Terrorism. “As Members of Congress, we have a responsibility to engage with our global partners on issues of mutual interest, including new economic pursuits, global security threats, and promoting democratic principles. We heard from American officials and servicemembers stationed abroad and met with foreign leaders, elected officials, and civil society groups. This trip will inform our work in Congress protecting American interests, bolstering our national security, and strengthening our relationships with key partners.”

As part of the Congressional Mission, Congresswoman Bustos visited Israel, where she met with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; members of the Knesset, which is Israel’s legislative body; the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman; Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh; and the U.S. Security Coordinator Lieutenant General, Eric Wendt. As a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, Congresswoman Bustos’ visit allowed for an in-depth discussion regarding the United States’ strong support of Israel – our greatest ally in the region – and how diplomatic relations can be improved to move towards a peaceful two-state solution. She also attended a reception at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya and an Independence Day event thrown by the U.S. Embassy.

In Qatar, Congresswoman Bustos toured the Combined Air Operations Center at Al Udeid Air Base – which is vital to the U.S. Air Force’s Central Command Region and supporting air power in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Finally, Congresswoman Bustos spent the Fourth of July with servicemembers stationed at the Air Force Base, including many from Illinois. You can view photos HERE.

During the Congressional Mission’s visit to Greece, Congresswoman Bustos visited the U.S. Naval Support Activity (NSA) Souda Bay. With a strategic location in the region, NSA Souda Bay is positioned to carry out its vital mission of extending rapid response fighting capability through Operational Support to U.S., Allied and Coalition Forces deployed within the U.S. European Command (EUCOM), U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). Given ongoing regional instability in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Northern Africa, NSA Souda Bay is an invaluable resource in providing combat readiness and the security of our nation’s and allies’ ships, aircraft and personnel.