Washington, DC - Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said the Administration is short-changing the United Nations in the budget proposal delivered to Congress today, which will ultimately harm national security.
"We face a $130 million shortfall in the account used to pay U.S. dues to the United Nations," Lantos noted. "For the first time since the historic Helms-Biden agreement to pay off old U.S. debt the United Nations, we will once again be in arrears. This is absurd. The Administration is budgeting for massive new arrears to the United Nations at a time when we need the organization to help us in Iraq, Darfur, Lebanon, Haiti and a host of other global hot spots."
The Administration's budget also appears to provide far less money than necessary for the projected U.S. share of the bill for U.N. peacekeeping operations in places such as Lebanon, Sudan, Haiti, Congo and Liberia. The President's budget appears to make unwarrantedly optimistic assumptions that there will be rapid improvement in the security situation in these countries, Lantos said, so the President's budget provides hundreds of millions of dollars less than may be needed ! for the se accounts in FY 2008.
"The United States already is about $400 million short of its obligations to the peacekeeping account," Lantos said. "It boggles the mind to realize the Administration is budgeting for hundreds of millions of dollars less than we need to fund critical U.N. peacekeeping operations that support core U.S. national security objectives in Lebanon, Haiti and a host of other places."
Lantos added, "UN peacekeeping operations are profoundly in U.S. interests. They save the United States untold blood and treasure, and they control conflicts that would otherwise spread and mutate. The Bush Administration knows this, but has decided to reduce the deficit by under-paying for our national security in this critical area. We can expect yet another supplemental spending request from the Administration next year to make up for at least part of this shortfall."