The Coming Republican Foreign Policy Team

Foreign Policy‘s Josh Rogin peers into the future, examining the ten Republican lawmakers who “are about to become the new foreign-policy brokers” if/when Republicans make expected gains in next week’s elections:

Congress may not be in charge of making foreign policy, but it sure can influence its implementation. Since taking office in January 2009, members of Congress — drawn primarily but not exclusively from the ranks of the GOP — have slowed the Obama administration’s efforts to advance its strategy when dealing with Russia, Syria, Israel, Cuba, and a host of other relationships. And the midterm elections won’t be making things any easier for President Barack Obama.

Rogin identifies two Republicans–Rep. Eric Cantor and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen–who will surely focus on Israel/Palestine:

1. Eric Cantor

The Virginia lawmaker, currently the House minority whip, could very well become majority leader in a GOP-controlled House of Representatives if current minority leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) is elected speaker of the House. Cantor, who is particularly active on foreign-policy issues involving Iran and Israel, could see his role expand significantly if he is given the power to set the House floor agenda and therefore determine which bills are considered, in what form, and when.

That could spell trouble for the administration’s foreign operations budget, which funds the State Department and sets levels for U.S. non-military assistance around the world. Republicans are threatening to withhold aid to countries they see as not being wholly supportive of the United States and Cantor told the Jewish Telegraph Agency that the president’s proposed budget might have to be rejected outright if Republicans take power — after separating out U.S. aid for Israel, of course…

5. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

If Republicans take the House, Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) is poised to take over the House Foreign Affairs Committee and could drastically alter the committee’s agenda and priorities. For example, she is likely to scuttle the drive to ease sanctions and travel restrictions on Cuba, which current chairman Howard Berman (D-Calif.) supports. Born in Havana, she is an active member of the Cuban-American lobby and even reportedly said once, “I welcome the opportunity of having anyone assassinate Fidel Castro and any leader who is oppressing the people.”

Her ascendancy could also spell doom for Berman’s bill on foreign-aid reform. She argues often for more vetting of foreign aid in the hope of finding cuts, and she has also introduced legislation to cut U.S. funding for the United Nations and the Palestinian Authority. She is also highly skeptical of the civilian nuclear agreements that the Obama administration is negotiating with Vietnam and Jordan. A vocal critic of what she sees as the Obama team’s cool approach to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Ros-Lehtinen could use the committee as a sounding board for those who want changes in the Obama administration’s approach to Middle East peace. “She’s no Dick Lugar,” said one House aide, referring to her temperate Senate counterpart. “She and her staff often go for the jugular. You’ll probably see a lot of contentious hearings.”

I’ll be taking a closer look at both Cantor and Ros-Lehtinen’s positions and statements on Israel/Palestine in the coming days.

One response to “The Coming Republican Foreign Policy Team

  1. Pingback: Meet Eric Cantor: On Israel/Palestine, Contempt for International Law and Justice | Alex Kane

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