Pursuant to the requirements of clause 2(d) of House Rule X, the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (“the Committee”) has prepared this oversight plan for the 116th Congress, which will be submitted to the Committee on Oversight and Reform and the Committee on House Administration. This plan summarizes the Committee’s oversight priorities for the next two years, subject to the understanding that new developments will undoubtedly affect priorities and work assignments in the months ahead.
Agency and program oversight are key responsibilities of the legislative branch. Committee Rule 15 requires each Subcommittee to hold regular oversight hearings that, according to usual practice, include an annual hearing on the portions of the Administration’s budget request within that Subcommittee’s jurisdiction. A new Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations has been created to enhance the Committee’s oversight capabilities. Oversight activities will be coordinated between the Committee and the Subcommittees in order to facilitate comprehensive and strategic review of the programs and agencies within the Committee’s jurisdiction.
These Committee activities may include hearings, briefings, reports, and investigations, Member or staff-level meetings, correspondence, fact-finding and oversight travel, reports, and public statements. They may also include effective use and review of reports by the Government Accountability Office and by statutory Inspectors General, as well as Congressional Notifications submitted by executive branch agencies. The Committee will consult, as appropriate, with other committees of the House that may share jurisdiction over relevant issues and activities.
The Committee’s authorization and oversight activities will emphasize:
- effectiveness of U.S. foreign policy;
- effective implementation of U.S. law;
- the review of agencies and programs in the Committee’s jurisdiction;
- effective management and administration, and institutional modernization;
- appropriate resourcing of U.S. foreign policy and programs.
2. PRIORITY OVERSIGHT MATTERS
a. Russia: The Committee will address the impact of Russia’s foreign policy on U.S. security, political, and economic interests, as a result of its aggression and related hostile actions regarding NATO, Ukraine, Georgia, and other countries. It will also examine Kremlin-driven efforts to undermine the governments and other institutions of the U.S. and other countries through cyber intrusions, propaganda and other tools. The Committee will examine the range of options available to the U.S. to respond to these actions, including legislation to impose further sanctions on Russia and provide assistance to vulnerable countries. The Committee will also review the deteriorating domestic situation in Russia regarding democracy, civil society, the rule of law, and human rights. It will also examine ways to reduce Russia’s ability to use its energy exports for political and economic coercion. In addition, the Committee will closely assess strategic stability and related arms control agreements with Russia to reduce the risk of nuclear conflict. The Committee will consult widely with experts to inform the measures the U.S. Government and other allies and partners should pursue on these matters. Working in tandem with other relevant committees, the Committee will investigate the substance and nature of President Trump’s exchanges with Russian president Vladimir Putin as they relate to the development and implementation of U.S. foreign policy on Russia.
b. Ukraine/Georgia: The Committee will closely monitor Russian-supported separatist iactivity and other aggressive actions aimed at undermining Ukraine’s sovereignty, including the forcible and illegal annexation of Crimea. The Committee will continue to examine the U.S. response to this aggression in light of the long-standing U.S. foreign policy doctrine of non-recognition of territorial changes effected by force alone. The Committee will assess the situation in Georgia and consider measures the U.S. Government can take to promote effective, democratic governance in these while turning back Russian intrusion. In addition, the Committee will actively oversee efforts to work with these countries to strengthen their military and security services, promote economic growth, combat corruption, and promote an effective and democratic government.
c. Europe/Eurasia: The Committee will review U.S. relations with European countries, with an emphasis on the European Union and NATO. Key issues include continued reassurance and support for our NATO allies, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe; rule of law and border security; U.S.-European cooperative efforts to combat terrorism and extremism; and diversification of energy sources to reduce reliance on Russian energy. The Committee will focus on strengthening our important strategic relationships with allies and partners in order to bolster American security and deter adversaries. The Committee will also scrutinize the nexus of populism, alignment of far left and far right political forces and increasingly autocratic governments, including those in Hungary, Poland, and Turkey. Similarly, the Committee will work to support comprehensive peace in the Balkans, including mutual diplomatic recognition between Serbia and Kosovo, while working to counter outside malign influences throughout the region. Similarly, the Committee will deeply engage on related Balkan matters such as NATO and EU accession for all countries in the region. The Committee will also continue oversight of U.S. political, security and economic policy in Central Asia, with a particular focus on strengthening partnerships to advance mutual security interests, including countering violent extremism, as well as efforts to promote economic development, human rights, and good governance.
d. Turkey: The Committee will examine Turkey’s evolving foreign policy orientation and its domestic political trends – including but not limited to its crackdown on domestic freedoms, its efforts to combat ISIS and the spread of extremism, its role as it pertains to conflict and refugees in Syria, its relationship with the Kurds, its relationship with the European Union, its continued occupation of the Republic of Cyprus, and the health of the long term U.S.-Turkey strategic relationship.
e. Afghanistan: The Committee will comprehensively review U.S. policy toward Afghanistan. Particular focus will be paid to the Administration’s efforts to bring the war in Afghanistan to an end through a coordinated peace and reconciliation effort. The Committee will also pay close attention to the Afghan government’s various reform efforts related to addressing corruption, improving governance, electoral reforms, and strengthening security. This review will assess the effectiveness of international aid and U.S. assistance programs, the broader political-military and associated counterterrorism strategies, and the full range of policies related to the post-2014 transition, including programs and budgeting processes.
f. Pakistan: The Committee will review all elements of U.S. policy toward Pakistan, including efforts to eliminate safe havens for violent extremists and establish a stable, democratic country. This review will encompass both U.S. civilian and security assistance to Pakistan, in order to assess the extent to which such programs effectively advance U.S. national interests. The Committee will also conduct ongoing oversight of matters relating to Pakistan’s nuclear program, including issues relating to nonproliferation, such as the legacy of the A.Q. Khan network.
g. North Korea: The Committee will review and work to address the threat posed by North Korea. Particular focus will be paid to North Korea’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs, its ballistic missile program, and the possible proliferation of these weapons and delivery systems. The Committee will also examine North Korea’s conventional weapon sales, other illicit activities, cyber-attacks, human rights violations, as well as U.S. efforts to assist North Korean refugees. The Committee will review U.S. diplomatic efforts, U.S. information dissemination efforts, the implementation of U.S. and international sanctions, the impact of current negotiations on U.S. alliances in Asia, whether the executive branch is keeping the legislative branch fully informed of regional developments and US policy toward North Korea, and consider next steps in U.S. policy to address the North Korean threat.
h. Indo-Pacific: The Committee will review the U.S.’s significant political, economic, and security interests in the Indo-Pacific, including East and Southeast Asia, South Asia, and the Pacific Islands. The Committee will conduct oversight of U.S. relations with countries in the Indo-Pacific, including foreign policy, foreign assistance, the strength of U.S. relationships with and among alliances and partners, security cooperation, territorial disputes, influence operations and trade relations, including export controls for sensitive technologies to China. The Committee will evaluate the State Department’s participation in multilateral organizations such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the East Asia Summit, and closely monitor any discussion of future trade agreements in Asia. The Committee will monitor the totality of the U.S. relationship with Taiwan as provided for in the Taiwan Relations Act.
i. India: The Committee will review U.S. policy towards India and the continued expansion of bilateral cooperation. Particular attention will be paid to the U.S.-India security relationship, including cooperation on counterterrorism efforts and developments since the 2015 defense framework agreement and India’s designation as a “Major Defense Partner.” The Committee will also focus on efforts to enhance U.S.-India economic and trade relations, and collaboration on efforts to address global climate change and support for the international rules-based order, stalled efforts to initiate civil nuclear cooperation and the implications of India’s rapidly growing energy demands will also be reviewed.
j. China: The Committee will examine China’s role in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. Particular focus will be placed on China’s influence operations globally, its assertiveness in territorial disputes, military modernization, and human rights abuses, including treatment of Tibetans, Uyghurs and other religious and ethnic minorities. The Committee will also consider China’s adherence to agreements made with Hong Kong under the “one country, two systems” principle enshrined in the Basic Law. In addition, the Committee will examine China’s role in the global economy, including trade, technology, energy, infrastructure, and its approach to assistance, including its Belt and Road Initiative. The Committee will review China’s cooperation on international nonproliferation efforts against North Korea. The Committee will investigate China’s increasing use of cyber and economic espionage to affect foreign trade, and other policy outcomes.
k. Sub-Saharan Africa: The Committee will review political, economic and security developments on the African continent, including the rise of geopolitical competition with Russia, China, and among the Gulf Arab States on the continent. Key issues will include efforts to strengthen democratic institutions, advance human rights, promote peace and security, and stimulate investment and equitable economic growth – including through the implementation of the African Growth and Opportunity Act and the Electrify Africa Act. The Committee will also focus on strengthening ties to the African Union and its regional economic communities, which are key partners in facilitating regional economic integration, protecting human rights, and advancing peace and security on the continent. Particular attention is to be paid to developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Sudan, Zimbabwe, South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Cameroon, Mali, and Niger.
l. Western Hemisphere: The Committee will assess the effectiveness of U.S. policy towards the countries of the Western Hemisphere and the strategic importance of a positive U.S. agenda in the Americas. Special emphasis will be placed on developments in political, security and economic cooperation with our partners in Canada and Mexico. Efforts for further collaboration with Argentina and Brazil will also be explored. The Committee will address the security challenges posed by transnational criminal organizations and other illegal armed actors. Challenges to democracy, human rights, the rule of law, anti-corruption efforts and press freedom in the Americas also will be examined. The Committee will closely monitor the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela and its impact on the Venezuelan people and countries throughout the region, as well as U.S. efforts to hold government actors in the country accountable. In the Northern Triangle countries of Central America, the Committee will assess the conditions that drive child and family migration and the appropriate response from the State Department, USAID and other international affairs agencies. In Nicaragua, the Committee will assess appropriate actions to continue to hold the country’s government and security forces accountable for human rights abuses. In Colombia, the Committee will evaluate the implementation of the country’s peace accords and ongoing counternarcotics efforts. The Committee will continue to closely monitor U.S. – Cuba relations and the health incidents impacting U.S. government personnel serving in Cuba. The Committee will continue its oversight of State Department and USAID assistance for reconstruction efforts in Haiti, as well as efforts to enhance U.S. energy, security and diplomatic cooperation with the countries of the Caribbean under the United States-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act Of 2016.
m. Syria: The Committee will scrutinize U.S. efforts to address Syria’s ongoing civil war, the war crimes committed by the Assad regime other parties, and the role of Iran, Russia, Turkey and our Kurdish partners in the conflict. Particular attention will be paid to the Administration’s decision to withdraw most U.S. forces from Syria, and the implications of that decision on U.S. personnel, allies, and interests. The Committee will also examine the consequences of the Administration’s decision to suspend stabilization assistance in Syria and evaluate U.S. efforts to prevent international reconstruction funds from assisting the Assad regime until a sustainable political solution is achieved and the regime allows for the safe, dignified and voluntary return of the outstanding six million displaced Syrians. The Committee will examine the impact of Syria’s refugee crisis on regional states including Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. The Committee will continue to review economic and diplomatic means by which to influence events in Syria.
n. Countering Violent Extremism: The Committee will examine the current status of al-Qaeda and its affiliates, with a specific focus on recruitment efforts, evolving save havens, and efforts to obtain WMDs. The Committee will also scrutinize the Administration’s efforts to defeat ISIS in the Middle East and around the world, including authorizations for such efforts, leveraging other countries’ commitments, evaluating U.S. leadership in the Coalition to Defeat ISIS, and determining the success of U.S. policies that seek to address the socio-economic challenges that led to the initial establishment and growth of ISIS. The Committee will conduct oversight of the State Department’s various counterterrorism programs, including those designed to counter violent extremism (CVE), as well as agreements with foreign governments relating to the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay.
o. U.S. Policies and Actions in the Arabian Peninsula: The Committee will evaluate the U.S. role in the Gulf, particularly the role that the United States plays in Yemen, as well as ways that the United States can help bring the conflict to an end and address the serious security and economic concerns that have plagued Yemen for decades. The Committee will also review the U.S. relationship with members of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen as well as U.S. policy options to build leverage with the Houthis in order to encourage compromise and a sustainable resolution of the conflict. The Committee will examine the status of rights of women, journalists, political dissidents and bloggers in the Gulf, and the extent to which current U.S. policy prioritizes human rights, the core of U.S. values.
p. Iran: The Committee will continue to closely review U.S. policy toward Iran, with a special focus on evaluating how the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA impacts the interests of the United States and our allies. The Committee will also review and work to address the threat posed by Iran’s ballistic missile development, state sponsorship of terrorism and growing influence in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon, as well as the regime’s ongoing human rights abuses, including the continued prolonged detention of Americans. The Committee also seeks greater understanding of the Administration’s strategy to change Iran’s behavior.
q. Israel and Palestinian Issues/Middle East Peace: The Committee will evaluate efforts by the Administration to advance peace between Israelis and Palestinians and will examine whether the Administration’s strategy and recent policy changes have helped bring the parties closer to a two-state solution. The Committee will also review how the Administration has sought to build ties between Israel and various Arab countries in the region. The Committee will examine the consequences of changes to U.S. assistance to Palestinians and the implications of these decisions for our allies and interests. The Committee will look at the various ways that the Administration seeks to build cooperation with Israel in an effort to expand this mutually beneficial relationship.
r. Middle East and North Africa: The Committee will carefully review U.S. policy toward the Middle East and North Africa, to include: the extent to which U.S. foreign assistance is being utilized in Iraq to help address the inequities that brought about the initial rise of ISIS; the democratic transition in Tunisia; the status of political negotiations in Libya; the impact of Chinese economic and diplomatic investment in the Middle East; the consequences of low oil prices for various oil-producing states; human rights and challenges to the rule of law throughout the region; and United States policies, programs, authorities and funding to address these challenges.
s. State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development Oversight, Authorization, and Modernization: The Committee will seek to pass a State Department Authorization bill as one has not been enacted since 2002. Emphasis will also be placed on modernizing personnel systems and practices, increasing workforce flexibility and improving recruitment and retention processes, with a focus on ensuring that Department of State personnel better represent the diversity of the United States. The Committee will continue to monitor and examine the operations, budget, programs, planning, workforce training, building, and security policies with an eye toward authorization for Fiscal Year 2020. In addition to hearings with the Secretary of State and other Administration officials regarding their budget proposals for the upcoming year, such efforts may include: revisions to the Foreign Service Act; the Foreign Assistance Act; consideration of reforms to Executive Branch reporting requirements; and a reduction or consolidation of offices with duplicative mandates and overlapping responsibilities. In the wake of increasing threats to U.S. personnel serving overseas, the Committee will continue to evaluate the security of our embassies and consulates, along with proposed reforms to the State Department’s diplomatic security service to promote the personnel safety in the context of appropriate evaluation of risk.
t. Employee Retaliation: The Committee will investigate ongoing allegations of politically-motivated retaliation against State Department and USAID employees, including individuals who have alleged they were subjected to prohibited personnel practices on account of their national origin, sexual identity, perceived political views, or in response to whistleblowing.
u. Foreign Assistance: The Committee will review the underlying authorities for U.S. foreign assistance with an eye towards reducing duplication, increasing transparency and effectiveness, and modernizing the foreign assistance workforce. It will also review issues related to the implementation of U.S. foreign assistance programs and projects, including the role of U.S. missions and embassies in overseeing grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements. In addition, the Committee will review issues related to coordination between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other U.S. Government agencies and departments involved in carrying out U.S. foreign assistance, as well as USAID’s proposed Redesign of its internal structure to ensure its congruency with foreign policy priorities and the appropriate use of U.S. foreign assistance. Among a broad range of issues, the Committee will review U.S. foreign assistance initiatives aimed at providing life-saving humanitarian assistance, catalyzing economic growth, reducing aid dependence, and addressing food security and global health challenges, including food aid reform, maternal health and child survival, infectious disease surveillance and control, and resilience of developing communities to weather shocks and stresses, including climate change. The Committee will also exercise oversight over the implementation of the BUILD Act, P.L. 115-254, which will transform the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) into the International Development Finance Corporation. Assistance provided through the Millennium Challenge Corporation will also receive close scrutiny.
v. Global Health: The Committee will examine key global health issues, in particular the harmful impacts of Administration policies of re-imposing the Global Gag Rule and eliminating funding to UNFPA on women's health services and access to reproductive health. Additionally, the Committee’s oversight will include reviewing the implementation of Congress’s 2018 reauthorization of PEPFAR, progress on global TB elimination, support for maternal and child health, and the upcoming replenishment of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and malaria. The Committee will also conduct oversight on infectious disease surveillance and control and strengthening of health care systems, particularly in light of the ongoing Ebola outbreak in DRC.
w. Climate Change, Energy, and the Environment: The Committee will examine the effectiveness of U.S. policy on climate change, including this Administration’s announced intent to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord and its impacts on our diplomatic relations, our development assistance, and multilateral engagement. We will explore the impacts of climate change on national security, its contributions to displacement and social unrest across the globe, and how we can advance a path toward climate stabilization. We will consider the evolution of the global energy landscape, emphasize good governance of existing resources, and work to assure energy security for the US and our allies. The committee will also oversee engagement on environmental issues including wildlife trafficking, international conservation efforts, and the role and safety of environmental activists across the globe.
x. Economic Policy and Trade: The Committee will oversee international economic policy, including U.S. leadership in trade, finance, energy, technology, and development policy to promote economic prosperity and national security.
y. Export Control Reform: The Committee will oversee the implementation of the Export Controls Act, contained in Title XVII of P.L. 115-232. The Committee also will oversee the implementation of Executive Branch reforms to U.S. strategic export controls. In particular, the Committee will assess the extent to which recent and any proposed new changes to the U.S. Munitions List and the Commerce Control List effectively safeguard critical technologies and national security, while supporting the defense industrial base and advancing U.S. commercial interests.
z. U.S. Nonproliferation Policy: The Committee will examine the effectiveness of U.S. nonproliferation policy and the international nonproliferation regime in preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction. The Committee will address opportunities to strengthen existing nonproliferation organizations, especially the International Atomic Energy Agency, increase cooperation with other countries, and enhance international nonproliferation agreements and mechanisms. Prominent issues will include the global expansion of civil nuclear power and the potential spread of technology, equipment and material useful in the development of nuclear weapons capabilities. The Committee will closely examine proposed and existing bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements with other countries, including their potential to promote U.S. nonproliferation objectives and commercial interests.
aa. Security Assistance and Arms Transfer Policy: The Committee will assess the effectiveness of security assistance programs authorized under the Foreign Assistance Act and the Arms Export Control Act in advancing U.S. national interests. In addition, the Committee will review those security cooperation programs funded by the Department of Defense but which require concurrence of the Secretary of State, or otherwise give rise to the Committee’s jurisdiction. The Committee will also review law and policy relating to U.S. arms transfers and related end-use monitoring, as well as various counterterrorism tools that impact foreign policy. The Committee will also continue to carefully review proposed arms sales to ensure they comport with U.S. foreign and national security policy and benefit the legitimate defense needs of the recipient countries, as well as the process by which the Administration consults with the Committee and the Congress on such sales to ensure proper oversight.
bb. U.S. International Broadcasting: The Committee will continue to actively monitor and review the operations and organization of U.S. government-supported, civilian international broadcasting to respond more effectively to the challenges presented by state and non-state actors using modern communication platforms. The Committee will closely oversee the implementation of the reforms enacted in the 114th congress, and seek further improvements in this critical area.
cc. Human Rights and Democracy: The Committee will review whether the administration is maintaining America’s longstanding role as a champion of human rights and democracy around the world, including in post-transition environments. The Committee will assess U.S. involvement with multilateral human rights organizations, to ensure that U.S. diplomacy serves to promote fundamental human rights and freedoms.
dd. United Nations and International Organizations: The Committee will closely review all aspects of U.S. funding of, and participation in, international organizations. The Committee will closely monitor the work of the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Department of Field Support, and particularly efforts to improve performance and enhance accountability. The Committee will also seek to ensure America’s engagement with UN institutions will support international diplomatic and development goals, including the Sustainable Development Goals. Close attention will be paid to the extent to which the Administration’s strategies in international organizations has led to better treatment of Israel and increased transparency, accountability, and reform of those organizations.
ee. Cybersecurity: The Committee shall conduct oversight over U.S. efforts to examine and devise appropriate responses to cyber threats from foreign governments, non-state actors, and criminal networks that target the United States. The Committee will also examine efforts by U.S. adversaries to undermine the government, democratic and other institutions of the United States and other nations through cyber intrusions.
ff. Conflicts of Interest Abroad: The Committee will investigate possible conflicts of interest presented by members of the Administration’s personal and business interests abroad and the impact of such interests on the development and implementation of U.S. foreign policy.