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Posts in "Foreign Policy"
August 7, 2014
The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations holds a 2 p.m. hearing on the Ebola virus, which has reportedly killed more than 900 people.
Witnesses include: Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Dr. Ariel Pablos-Méndez, the assistant administrator for global health at the U.S. Agency for International Development, and representatives from the State Department, Samaritan’s Purse and SIM.
July 29, 2014
The House Judiciary Committee holds a 10 a.m. oversight hearing questioning Leon Rodriguez, the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, who was sworn in on July 9.
July 2, 2014
President Barack Obama deserves blame for much of the misery in overcrowded illegal immigrant facilities on the Southwest border, a conservative Texas congressman told CQ Roll Call Wednesday.
But “instant deportation,” Republican Blake Farenthold said, is no answer to the crisis.
The second-term congressman is part of a group of lawmakers taking a firsthand look this week at Texas facilities that have been stretched to the breaking point in recent weeks as thousands of Central American children and mothers have streamed across the border seeking asylum.
The sudden surge of young immigrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador is a direct result of the president’s rhetoric on immigration, Farenthold said.
“He telegraphed a message that if you’re a kid, you’re gonna get to stay,” Farenthold explained.
But the Corpus Christi lawmaker, who before 2012 redistricting represented the area now at the center of national scrutiny, is also frustrated with many of his constituents — and even with some of his colleagues — who call for instant deportation of “alien” children.
“We can’t just take them to the town square in Guatemala and kick them off the bus,” Farenthold said. “I also make the point that, if I were to send my child on a journey this perilous, child protective services would be knocking on my door trying to take away custody of my children.
“Here’s the thing with border security,” he continued. “Let’s assume it’s 100 percent secure, we catch anybody who crosses the border within a mile of the border, alright? Even if we capture a child, we still have to do something with that child.”
The “national security” and “humanitarian crisis” elements of the child migrant border surge are different, according to Farenthold — a distinction that needs to be clear for both Republicans and Democrats as Congress reconvenes next week with just 16 legislative work days scheduled before the August recess.
June 20, 2014
Updated 2:57 | With President Barack Obama grappling with how to respond to the escalating violence in Iraq and the rapid rise of an insurgent terrorist organization there, House Democrats have spoken: They overwhelmingly want to cut off funding for combat in the region, especially boots on the ground.
Late Thursday, 142 Democrats and a handful of Republicans joined forces behind an amendment to the fiscal 2015 defense appropriations bill that would have barred any spending on combat operations in Iraq.
The amendment failed 165-250, but the overwhelming Democratic support for the provision signals a Congress increasingly weary of war. Full story
June 18, 2014
House Democrats are still grappling with how to confront the escalating violence in Iraq, but in the next 24 hours they could be forced to vote on the issue.
Staunch antiwar Democrat Barbara Lee, D-Calif., told CQ Roll Call on Wednesday afternoon that she planned to offer three amendments to the fiscal 2015 defense appropriations bill, which is on the House floor this week.
“One, no funds will be used for combat operations in Iraq,” she said. “Two, I want to repeal the 2002 authorization to use force. You know, in the farm bill, transportation bill, it sunsets. This is far too long to have that authorization in effect, so I want to repeal that.
“And,” Lee continued, “I want to repeal the 2001 authorization to use force, which has been used as the legal justification for wire tapping and other kinds of those activities.”
June 11, 2014
The House Armed Services Committee holds a hearing Wednesday on President Barack Obama’s decision to exchange five Taliban prisoners from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Department of Defense General Counsel Stephen Preston will testify about the swap.
The hearing, “The May 31, 2014 Transfer of Five Senior Taliban Detainees,” begins at 10 a.m.
June 10, 2014
Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio cast doubt Tuesday on the administration’s claim that it did not inform members of Congress about the prisoner swap that freed Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl due to a fear of leaks, and said the swap will lead to consequences.
“The biggest issue here is a violation of a policy that the United States has had for many, many years that we don’t negotiate with terrorists,” he said. “The fact is we have violated that policy and as a result, this made America less safe, here and all around the world. And we’re going to pay for it. There is not any doubt in my mind there are going to be costs … lost lives, associated with what came out of this.”
Boehner said he and several other members of Congress were briefed multiple times in the run up to the special forces raid of Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan.
“Six times before Osama bin Laden was taken down I was briefed on it. I was briefed multiple times over the course of the six months. I was given a heads up several days before it happened. So this idea that they couldn’t trust us with not leaking anything, it’s just not true,” Boehner told reporters. Full story
June 9, 2014
House Republicans made one thing clear Monday evening: They would not soon abandon calls for congressional oversight into the Obama administration’s decision to swap five Guantánamo Bay Taliban prisoners for U.S. prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl.
Emerging from their first briefing from White House officials on the details of Army Sgt. Bergdahl’s May 31 release from Taliban custody, GOP lawmakers’ tempers were running high.
Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., said he was “not satisfied” by the information he received. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., scoffed at the premise that the briefing was “classified” because, she said, no new information was disseminated to members. And veteran Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., said the officials were “trying to put lipstick on a pig.”
Above all, members appeared to be most upset that no member of Congress in either chamber was consulted prior to the transfer of the Taliban prisoners for Bergdahl, arguing that President Barack Obama acted unilaterally and, perhaps, in violation of the law. Full story
June 3, 2014
Updated 4:11 p.m. | Speaker John A. Boehner charged the Obama administration with intentially keeping the swap of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban officials from Congress ahead of time and backed a push for hearings by Armed Services Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon Tuesday.
The Taliban officials were transferred to Qatar from the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, without the legally required 30 days Congressional notification.
The Ohio Republican acknowledged Tuesday that an exchange like the one that took place Saturday had been previously discussed years ago.
But he said that while Congress kept the idea secret despite concerns about the wisdom of a transfer, the administration intentionally kept them in the dark.
“There was every expectation that the administration would re-engage with Congress, as it did before, and the only reason it did not is because the administration knew it faced serious and sober bipartisan concern and opposition,” Boehner charged.
Boehner spokesman Michael Steel also pointed to a statement by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on June 21, 2013 when asked about the possibility of exchanging five Guantanamo prisoners for Bergdahl.
“We would not make any decisions about transfer of any detainees without consulting with Congress,” Carney said, per the White House transcript.
The White House and President Barack Obama have contended the lack of notice was due to the desire to complete the deal and get Bergdahl home safely, and the White House has contended the lack of notice was lawful.
May 22, 2014
Despite ongoing concerns about the Nigerian military’s shaky record on human rights, House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce said Wednesday the U.S. needs to step up aid to the central African country’s armed forces — even if it means waiving the “Leahy Law,” a 1998 act designed to prevent American assistance being given to human rights abusers.
The California Republican said President Barack Obama has the power to waive the Leahy Law, an amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act, in “extraordinary circumstances.”
“U.S. forces are well positioned to advise and assist,” Royce said Wednesday. “If some U.S. laws would hinder such assistance, the administration should use its waiver authority under these extraordinary circumstances.”
May 21, 2014
The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on the militant Islamist group Boko Haram, which kidnapped more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls in April. The hearing, “Boko Haram, The Growing Threat to Schoolgirls, Nigeria, and Beyond,” begins at 9:45 a.m.
May 20, 2014
House Democrats are still weighing whether they will appoint members to the GOP-led special committee to investigate the September 2012 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya — but don’t call it a caucus-wide “division,” two senior lawmakers implored.
“[It's] the wrong word,” Caucus Vice Chairman Joseph Crowley of New York said at a Tuesday morning news conference. “The caucus is not divided. … What the caucus is doing is helping our leadership come up with a plan on how to approach what is a very serious issue.”
“Democrats’ concern has always been whether this will be a legitimate process, to make a sincere effort to learn something new, or whether it’s really … a campaign cash-raising tool,” added Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra of California. Full story
May 19, 2014
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi channeled Silicon Valley in her May 17 commencement address at the University of California, Berkeley, calling on graduates to be “disruptors.”
“Our founders were successful disruptors of the then-status quo,” the California Democrat said. “Being called a disruptor, in my view, is a very high compliment.”
Pelosi noted Berkeley’s history of disruption, citing the free-speech protests of the 1960s led by civil rights activist Mario Savio.
Savio’s message, Pelosi said, was only as fast as the tools of that time, namely, radio and television.
“Now, it’s all about you,” Pelosi said. “What you can do with your freedom to speak out, with the tools of our time: Instagram and YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.” Full story
May 16, 2014
The State Department would not confirm Thursday night whether John Kerry will appear at a new Benghazi hearing scheduled May 29 by House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, who hours earlier issued another subpoena for the secretary of state.
State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said discussions with the House panel are ongoing, but that no agreement had been reached.
“This is now the second time in 14 days that the Secretary of State has been subpoenaed while traveling overseas representing the United States on urgent national security issues. This time the subpoena was accompanied by a headline-grabbing, highly political tweet attacking the integrity of the State Department itself,” Harf said in a statement.
“This is not the way legitimate and responsible oversight is conducted, and it’s a departure from the days when Rep. Issa himself once lamented that a Secretary of State should not be distracted from the work of national security to testify at the barrel of a subpoena. As we have said, and we reiterate today, we will continue to work with the Committee to resolve their request, but we have not made arrangements for a hearing date, and we hope to explore with them whether there are witnesses better suited to answer their questions and meet their needs for oversight.” Full story
May 15, 2014
House Democrats still haven’t named members to the Select Committee on Benghazi, but Rep. Trey Gowdy, the appointed chairman of the panel that boasts a full slate of Republicans, is staffing up.
On Thursday afternoon, the South Carolina Republican announced that Phil Kiko would come on board as majority staff director.
“Phil brings with him years of experience serving in various capacities in the House and the Executive Branch, including top positions for three Committees,” Gowdy said in a statement. “He has a proven record of effective leadership and management, and I am pleased to have him on our team as we conduct a serious, fact-driven investigation to ensure our fellow Americans know the full truth about what happened in Benghazi.”