While much of the power to conduct foreign affairs is granted to the president by the U.S. Constitution, Congress can and should still shape foreign policy and play a vital role in ensuring the world remains a safe place and that our citizens are protected from harm.
For example, Congress maintains control over the “purse strings” and funds our national defense and foreign assistance. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I have had the opportunity to see firsthand how foreign assistance is used to support American values all over the world. On average, about one percent of foreign aid is provided as direct budget support (cash) to foreign governments. The remainder of aid is given in the form of expert technical advice, training, equipment, vaccines, food, educational exchanges and applied research. Much of the work done by America and its citizens internationally is crucial to lifting developing countries out of poverty and promoting long-term development.
Additionally, through the appropriations process, Congress can help ensure that funding goes to countries to build stability and counter international threats. Approximately 1.3 percent of the total federal budget is designated for foreign assistance from all federal sources. Aid that promotes global prosperity, democracy and rule of law, economic growth and humanitarian interests reflects American values and global leadership.
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Iran is a rogue state and very unlikely to be a dependable, reliable or honest negotiating partner. Over the last several months, all eyes have focused on the international negotiations to decide the nature of Iran’s nuclear capabilities. At the insistence of the Administration and despite warnings from our allies in the Middle East, these nuclear talks are expected to result in a deal that lifts sanctions and allows Iran to maintain much of its ability to enrich uranium. That means Iran would be only a few short steps away from creating a nuclear weapon whenever it chose to do so.
The increasing boldness that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/ISIS) continues to display makes it abundantly clear that the president has badly underestimated its resolve to wage jihad against our allies in the Middle East and, eventually, the United States. Considering that the terrorist group has already been responsible for killing Americans and attacking a number of our allies, it should be clearly evident that the United States cannot ignore the escalating conflict.
As threats of terrorism continue to unfold around the globe, particularly through the spread of extremist groups in the Middle East, it is critical for America to show strength and focus in its dealings with friends and foes alike. Beyond condemning specific acts and sponsors of terror, our country must be guided by a clear strategy in our dealings abroad, including our approach to our relationships with both allied partners and those who wish us harm.
The Oklahoman - Chris Casteel
Rep. Tom Cole returned from the Middle East on Friday and said the Obama administration’s framework for a nuclear deal with Iran could set off an arms race in an already fragile region.
“It’s a region in turmoil, a very dangerous turmoil,” Cole, R-Moore, said in an interview. “The other countries aren’t going to sit there in the region and say, ‘Iran can develop (nuclear weapons), and we can’t.’”
With the March 31 deadline for initial negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 just days away, I am very concerned by the president’s failure to consult Congress and his lack of stated intention to do so. Concern over what the new framework could include for Iran’s nuclear program is not a partisan issue. In fact, members on both sides of the aisle have told the president to err on the side of caution and remember the history of our relationship with Iran.
Certainly the most valuable friends in life are those who are unafraid to speak the honest, unapologetic truth when it desperately needs to be heard. Through his powerful speech before Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proved that he, and his country, remains exactly that kind of honest and true friend to the United States.