Well-traveled and well-educated congressional staffers

February 19, 2013

As a former congressional staffer who participated in an official 2007 delegation to China, I appreciated The Post’s Feb. 18 news article “Trips fly through holes in rules.” The Post performed an important service in providing journalistic oversight of the murky rules governing such travel, as well as the quid pro quo expectations of the trip’s supporters.

But I worry that readers will focus on the technical details that fill the article and miss the bigger picture. Despite the flaws of the system, the opportunity to directly experience foreign countries and cultures is essential to the ability of congressional staffers to intelligently advise their bosses. Too often during my short time working in Congress, I saw people who wore their international naivete as a badge of honor and were proud not to have a passport.

A closed mind is a limited mind, and isolationist tendencies help no one. So while we discuss appropriate rules and expectations, let’s not forget that everyone benefits when Congress is well-educated about the world outside our borders.

Brian Wagner, Arlington

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