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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Last week, President Barack Obama addressed the nation and offered his plan for combating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). During his speech, the president asked Congress to authorize training of Syrian rebels and recommended further air strikes in the region for diffusing the threat of this dangerous enemy.
The Wire - Russell Berman
The House will only vote on a formal resolution authorizing the use of military force against the Islamic State if President Obama makes a direct request for congressional action.
That's the message the new majority leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), has been delivering privately to lawmakers in recent days, according to aides familiar with his thinking.
In addition to the growing threat of terrorism due to ISIS influence in Iraq and Syria, there is another volatile situation that must be watched along the Gaza strip. Like ISIS, Hamas is a Sunni Islamist party that has shown its disregard for human life and sole intention to do harm. This has taken form through numerous unprovoked and unwarranted rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas, sometimes despite supposed ceasefire agreements, and use of its own civilians as human shields.
Last week, the world was horrified when we learned that American journalist, James Foley, was brutally murdered in cold blood by ISIS extremists. But this wasn’t the first instance of violence by these terrorists, nor is it likely to be the last if they are not stopped.
Tulsa World - Randy Krehbiel
President Barack Obama should ask Congress for authority to expand U.S. intervention in Iraq, and Congress should give it to him, 4th District Congressman Tom Cole said Friday in Tulsa.
“The president can claim, and a lot of people will want him to do this, that he can act under the 2002 authorization,” said Cole. “There’s a legal argument for that, but I don’t think there’s a good political argument for it.”
The Oklahoman - By Rick Green
Dangers have increased around the globe at a time when U.S. military forces are smaller and less capable of dealing with trouble overseas, Rep. Tom Cole told The Oklahoman’s editorial board.
“In my time in Congress, and I’ve sat on the Armed Services Committee or Defense Appropriations almost every year I’ve been there, I have never seen a more complex and dangerous international environment than we have today,” he said Thursday.
Ever since Russia violated Ukrainian sovereignty by sending troops to invade Crimea back in March, the world has been clearly warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin is on the move to conquer and claim neighboring territory. While he started with making Crimea part of Russia, professing that he must do so as protector of the “Russian world,” clearly his goal is to take over huge swaths of the country of Ukraine and then threaten the sovereignty of other countries allied or associated with America.