The new HFAC: A mixed bag on foreign aid

    Rep. Ed Royce of California, incoming chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee. Photo by: House Foreign Affairs Committee / CC BY-NC

    A group of lawmakers who will help steer U.S. foreign affairs in the next two years has just been announced - and their interest, not surprisingly, is more on national security issues than foreign aid reform, a Devex investigation suggests.

    The Republican members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee were named Jan. 3. The new chairman, Rep. Edward Royce, has already identified tackling Iran’s nuclear program and other perceived threats to U.S. security as top priority for the panel; he also wants to help advance U.S. economic growth overseas and guide the Obama administration’s shifting focus toward Asia-Pacific.

    However, more immediate HFAC priorities early this year include a highly anticipated hearing featuring testimony by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, which killed the ambassador and three other Americans, as well as the budget negotiations that will soon kick off with a series of hearings featuring the heads of the Millennium Development Corp. and U.S. Agency for International Development.

    Royce’s fellow Republicans to serve with him on the committee are: 

    • Rep. Chris Smith (NJ), a social conservative who once held up U.S. payments of U.N. dues and State Department reforms because of his opposition to the Clinton administration’s family planning policies.

    • Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL), the outgoing committee chairwoman; a strong supporter of Israel and human rights who has criticised the United Nations and the Cuban regime.

    • Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (CA), who opposes further U.S. engagement in Af-Pak affairs.

    • Rep. Steve Chabot (OH), who as chairman of the House subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, proposed conditioning aid to Egypt on the Muslim Brotherhood not joining the government.

    • Rep. Joe Wilson (SC), a tea-party conservative who’s also part of the global health and international conservation caucuses.

    • Rep. Michael McCaul (TX), the new chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

    • Rep. Ted Poe (TX), an ultra-conservative whose Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act addresses what he calls a “wasteful and broken” system.

    • Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ), who returns to Congress after serving from 1995 to 2001.

    • Rep. Tom Marino (PA), who says he supports humanitarian aid even during the ongoing debt crisis.

    • Rep. Jeff Duncan (SC), who has suggested to “cut all funding to countries that do not support the United States within the United Nations at least 50 percent of the time.”

    • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (IL), a veteran of Afghan and Iraqi combat operations who wants the United States to continue pushing democratic reforms in the Middle East.

    • Rep. Mo Brooks (AL), who has suggested reducing foreign aid to all countries except Israel and Pakistan; “once we get out of Afghanistan, I’d give Pakistan zippo,” he has said.

    • Rep. Tom Cotton (AR), who has cautioned against cutting foreign aid and instead incorporate it into a broader strategy that includes trade, military alliances and multilateral partnerships.

    Republican freshmen who are joining the committee with a limited background on foreign aid issues include Rep. Paul Cook (CA), Rep. George Holding (NC), Rep. Randy Weber (TX), Rep. Scott Perry (PA), Rep. Steve Stockman (TX), Rep. Ron DeSantis (FL), Rep. Trey Radel (FL), Rep. Doug Collins (GA), Rep. Mark Meadows (NC), Rep. Ted Yoho (FL) and Rep. Luke Messer (IN).

    Democrats on the committee will be led by Rep. Eliot Engel, including several incumbents and the following freshmen: Rep. Alan Grayson (FL), Rep. Juan Vargas (CA), Rep. Brad Schneider (IL), Rep. Joe Kennedy (MA), Rep. Ami Bera (CA) and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (CA).

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    About the author

    • Adrienne valdez 400x400

      Adrienne Valdez

      Adrienne Valdez is a former staff writer for Devex, covering breaking international development news. Before joining Devex, Adrienne worked as a news correspondent for a public-sector modernization publication.