CQ Looks At Plans For House Foreign Affairs Committee To Evaluate U.N. Programs

CQ Today examines how Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), House Foreign Affairs Committee chair, “has vowed to use her new [position] to take on the U.N. and some of its more controversial practices.” Ros-Lehtinen scheduled a public briefing titled “The United Nations: Urgent Problems that Need Congressional Action” for Jan. 12, during which the “committee will hear from a host of groups long critical of the U.N., including the Heritage Foundation and U.N. Watch,” according to the news service.

She “also plans to reintroduce a bill she sponsored in the 111th Congress that would give the United States more discretion over the funding its provides the U.N., create an inspector general to oversee the U.S. contribution, and ban U.S. participation on the U.N. Human Rights Council until that body is fundamentally overhauled.” According to CQ, “[t]he legislation attracted 106 cosponsors in the last Congress – all Republicans – including the House’s new Speaker, John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.”

The article notes the history of attempts to add greater oversight to U.S. funding to the U.N., including the passage of a House bill in 2005 “that threatened to withhold as much as half of the U.S. contribution to the U.N. if the organization did not follow through on a series of improvements. The legislation was opposed by the George W. Bush administration and was never brought to a vote in the Senate.” According to CQ, “Ros-Lehtinen plans not only to push an equally or more ambitious overhaul bill through the House, but also to scrutinize the U.N.’s Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.”

The piece notes other changes Ros-Lehtinen hopes to bring to the U.N. and includes a quote by Ros-Lehtinen’s spokesman, Brad Goehner (Cadei, 1/10).

Meanwhile, on Friday, Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) was named chairwoman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, The Hill reports, in an article that examines how a focus on “slash[ing] spending across the board” could impact foreign programs. Granger “said that her panel’s funding has jumped 33 percent over the past two years, and lawmakers on the subcommittee will look to those recent funding additions first when it comes to cuts. … That could include presidential initiatives on global health and climate change,” the news service writes.

“As we look at cuts we have to always look at national security and the security of our partners, which is our security, too,” Granger said, according to The Hill. “More seriously than at any time, we have to prioritize what is the most important thing at this time,” she said (Johnson, 1/9).

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