J Street's political action committee announced Thursday that it would be increasing the number and amount of its contributions to US Congressional candidates by at least 50 percent in the coming year.The announcement comes a few weeks ahead of J Street's first planned trip to bring members of Congress to Israel. Such trips are commonly organization by other Israel-oriented organizations, notably the American Israel Education Foundation, a charitable organization affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. J Street has yet to finalize the list of participants on its inaugural mission.JStreetPAC - the arm of the self-described pro-Israel, pro-peace lobby that raises and disburses political contributions - released on Thursday a list of 41 endorsem
ents, 39 of them sitting members, of those competing in November's midterm election. The PAC backed the same number in 2008, but pledged to expand the list and total funding over the course of the election cycle. In its first cycle of contributions, in 2008, J Street handed out $578,186. "This is only round one when it comes to what we're doing for the next 10 months," said J Street spokeswoman Amy Spitalnick.The 41 endorsees include one Republican, Rep. Charles Boustany of Louisiana, and one of the two Muslim members of Congress, Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota. Eight Jewish members also received JStreetPAC's nod, including representatives Steve Cohen of Tennessee, Susan Davis of California, Barney Frank of Massachusetts and John Yarmuth of Kentucky, as well as the only senator on the list, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin.The other Jewish representatives were those who participated in J Street's first annual conference in October: Bob Filner of California, Jared Polis of Colorado and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois.