'Bipartisan' Delegation to Haiti Includes 1 Republican, 11 Democrats

Maybe it was an oversight. Or maybe it was a metaphor for what counts as bipartisanship these days. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Friday that she is leading a 12-member "bipartisan" congressional delegation to Haiti. The group includes one Republican -- outmatched by 11 Democrats. 

Though Pelosi's press release used the word "bipartisan" five times, Florida Sen. George LeMieux is the sole GOP lawmaker in Congress visiting the devastated island nation for what would presumably be a bipartisan cause -- assessing ways to help the country recover from its earthquake. 

LeMieux spokesman Ken Lundberg said other Republicans "were asked," though he couldn't speak for them. He said LeMieux determined it was "important that he go." 

"We have a large Haitian community in Florida," Lundberg said. He said lawmakers touched down in Haiti Friday morning and plan to return the same day. 

"Just a quick trip," he said. 

Pelosi said in the statement that the lawmakers would "pay our respects" to the Haitian people, as well as hold meetings with President Rene Preval and other top officials. They also planned to visit aid distribution sites and medical centers, and meet with aid workers from the U.S. military, the United Nations and other organizations. 

"It is also crucial that the House and Senate -- on a bipartisan basis -- have the opportunity to examine the ongoing reconstruction efforts ahead of the U.S. Congress considering long-term reconstruction assistance for Haiti," she said. 

Among the Democratic delegation members are Pelosi, Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, New York Rep. Charlie Rangel and Donna Christensen, the non-voting delegate from the Virgin Islands

It's not the first time that barely visible participation of the minority party counted as bipartisanship. The guest list for the White House bipartisan Super Bowl party last weekend included one Republican, Louisiana Rep. Joseph Cao, who incidentally was the only Republican in Congress to cast a floor vote for health care reform.