The U.S. State Department is sending the imam at the center of plans for a mosque near Ground Zero on an outreach trip to the Middle East.

Feisal Abdul Rauf will visit Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates to promote religious tolerance and discuss Muslim life in America. Rauf is behind controversial plans to build a mosque near the site of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

According to CNN, U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs committee, and Peter King (R-N.Y.), ranking member of the Homeland Security committee, said taxpayers should not have to fund the trip, which they called “unacceptable.”

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