Washington, DC – Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today released a summary of the committee’s legislative and oversight accomplishments for the year. From the Iraq war to the fight against global warming, the committee took action to address some of the country’s most urgent priorities and restored the kind of vigorous oversight that had been missing before the 110th Congress.
“In just one year, we have reinvigorated the Constitutionally-mandated oversight role of Congress, which has been all but absent for far too long,” Lantos said. “We have addressed the most pressing issues facing the American people, from ending U.S. involvement in the civil war in Iraq to implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission that will help keep us all safe. From climate change to nuclear nonproliferation, this committee has moved in a new direction over the past year, and I am extraordinarily proud of what we have accomplished.”
The full committee and its subcommittees held nearly 150 hearings and markups this year and considered 108 pieces of legislation. Among the most critical legislation adopted by or including legislative initiatives from the Foreign Affairs Committee are:
H.R. 1, which implements the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. The final version, enacted into public law, includes Lantos’ ADVANCE Democracy Act (H.R. 982), which focuses on democracy promotion and human rights abroad;
H.R. 6, the Energy Independence and Security Act, a groundbreaking package of clean and renewable energy initiatives incorporating international portions authored by Lantos that will make America a global leader in the fight against climate change, which today was signed into law;
H.R. 1400, Lantos’ Iran Counter-Proliferation Act, which uses peaceful economic sanctions to pressure Iran and revokes the authority of the president to waive sanctions on companies doing business with Iran;
H.R. 885, the International Nuclear Fuel for Peace and Nonproliferation Act, authored by Lantos to promote nuclear non-proliferation by creating an international nuclear fuel bank under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency from which all nations could draw nuclear fuel for civilian purposes, which in substance included in legislation that has been cleared for the President;
H.R. 2446, the Afghan Freedom and Security Support Act, jointly authored by Chairman Lantos and Ranking Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, provides funding for development, economic and security assistance programs in Afghanistan and addresses the growing threat of narcotics;
H.R. 1469, which would establish the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation, a Lantos initiative to promote study abroad and cultural exchange among college students of all income levels.
Lantos, the founding co-chairman of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, also sponsored tough legislation tightening sanctions against the military junta ruling Burma (H.R. 3890, the Block Burma JADE [Junta’s Anti-Democratic Efforts] Act) which passed the House last week and the Senate today. He also authored legislation, passed by the committee and the House, to combat the scourge of modern-day slavery and human trafficking (H.R. 3887, the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act), conducted two hearings on the disquieting situation in Russia and chaired a powerful hearing on the role of Yahoo! in human rights abuses in China.
A key priority for Lantos as he took the reins of the Foreign Affairs Committee in January was addressing the war in Iraq and conducting real oversight of the Administration’s politics and practices there. The full committee convened 13 hearings on the topic, including a joint hearing with the Armed Services Committee featuring General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker. Subcommittees conducted seven hearings on Iraq. Additional full committee hearing topics this year included Iran, the future of the United Nations, the political environment in Russia, and non-proliferation efforts involving North Korea.
In addition, the committee addressed good governance issues by passing legislation to modernize the Red Cross and mitigate the passport backlog at the State Department, as well as holding a hearing on the troublesome course foreign assistance reform effort led by the then-Administrator of USAID, Randall Tobias.
Some vital statistics from the Foreign Affairs Committee’s work in the 110th Congress:
13 full committee hearings on Iraq
108 bills and resolutions marked up by the full Committee
10 bills and resolutions enacted into public law
30 bills and resolutions with all House action complete, awaiting Senate action
72 House resolutions approved by the Committee and passed by the House, making legislative action complete