New Voice of Congressional Foreign Policy Sings a Very Different Song

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Reported in the Washington Post:

New foreign affairs player arrives on the scene

By Jennifer Rubin

Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen was named chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee this week.Over the last week, I’ve expressed skepticism about the ability of Senate and House Republicans to impact the administration’s foreign policy. As we saw during the Bush administration, even a president whose popularity is skidding enjoys wide latitude in the conduct of foreign policy. And at a time when domestic issues are paramount, there are few Republicans willing to devote time and energy to foreign policy. But there is a big exception: Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.).

Ros-Lehtinen was named chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee this week. To say that critics of the Obama foreign policy are thrilled to have her on the scene would be an understatement. If you talk to Cuba democracy advocates, friends of Israel, supporters of Georgia against Russian aggression, and human rights activists, they will uniformly express praise for Ros-Lehtinen.

In her opening remarks after being named chair, she demonstrated why she may well become the darling of conservatives and the bane of the Obama administration. She issued a multi-pronged attack on the administration. She promised “a number of cuts to the State Department and Foreign Aid budgets. There is much fat in these budgets, which makes some cuts obvious.” She is looking not only to cut but to reform: “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.” But she does not intend to focus solely on budgets. She described what amounts to an ideological offensive against the administration, describing her plan to use “U.S. contributions to international organizations as leverage to press for real reform of those organizations, such as the United Nations, and… to call for withdrawal of U.S. funds to failed entities like the discredited Human Rights Council if improvements are not made.”

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For those who want a little more background on Rep. Ros-Lehtinen’s prior work, read here.

Baby steps toward sane policies give hope of a light at the end of the long dark tunnel we have been traveling.

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