Incoming House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Outlines Views On U.S. Foreign Policy; House Passes FY 2011 Funding Act

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) “moved rapidly Wednesday to put her mark on U.S. foreign policy as the incoming chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee,” McClatchy reports (Clark, 12/8).

“House Republican leaders approved their slate of committee chairmen on Wednesday,” according to the New York Times, which notes that Ros-Lehtinen is the only woman in the group (Steinhauer, 12/9). Ros-Lehtinen “will officially assume the chair of the committee in January,” McClatchy writes.

“She promised aggressive oversight of U.S. foreign policy, including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as a review of foreign aid with an eye toward cutting costs. ‘I know no State Department official or anyone involved in international affairs wants to hear that, but that’s the sad reality of our economic state,’ she said in an interview at the Capitol. ‘We’re tightening our belts domestically, and we must do so internationally as well,'” the news service reports (12/8).

“As chairman of this committee, I will work to restore fiscal discipline to foreign affairs, reform troubled programs and organizations, exercise vigorous oversight to identify waste, fraud, and abuse, and counter the threats posed to our nation by rogue states and violent extremists,” the congresswoman said, according to Foreign Policy’s blog, “The Cable.”

The blog points out: “Ros-Lehtinen doesn’t actually dole out the funds for the State Department and the foreign operations budgets. That’s the job of the House Appropriations State and Foreign Ops subcommittee. … [T]he likely incoming chairwoman of that panel, Rep. Kay Granger (R-Tex.), is of a similar mind as Ros-Lehtinen” (Rogin, 12/8).

In prepared remarks, Ros-Lehtinen said, “We must shift our foreign aid focus from failed strategies rooted in an archaic post-WWII approach that, in some instances, perpetuates corrupt governments, to one that reflects current realities and challenges and empowers grassroots and civil society,” Agence France-Presse writes. She also “vowed to use U.S. dues to international organizations like the United Nations ‘as leverage to press for real reform’ and warned she ‘will not hesitate’ to call for cutting off money to ‘failed entities,'” such as the U.N. Human Rights Council (12/8).

House Passes FY 2011 Funding Act; $51B For State And Foreign Ops

Also on Capitol Hill Wednesday, the House passed a “$1.1 trillion measure to freeze spending on most government programs at current levels,” Bloomberg reports (Faler, 12/9).

The FY 2011 funding act passed by a 212-206 vote, cutting $46 billion from President Barack Obama’s request, the Associated Press/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Taylor, 12/9).

“The Act provides $51 billion for programs within the jurisdiction of the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, $2.2 billion above 2010 to meet U.S. international obligations and continue to support our efforts in Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan,” states a press release (.pdf) from the office of Rep. David Obey, (D-Wis.), head of the Committee on Appropriations. The bill “[a]djusts funding to meet a portion of the U.S. commitment to the Global Food Security Fund and to meet its commitment to the Asian Development Bank’s capital increase,” the press release notes (12/7).

“In the Senate, Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, backed by Democratic leaders, has fashioned an omnibus spending measure – providing almost $20 billion more than the House bill – that he wants to substitute for the measure being passed across the Capitol,” according to the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution (12/9). According to Bloomberg, the Senate omnibus “would include thousands of lawmakers’ pet projects known as earmarks. The House legislation omits earmarks” (12/9).

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