United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

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Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Standing committee
Active
Seal of the United States Senate.svg
United States Senate
117th Congress
United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.jpg
History
Formed1816
Leadership
Chair Bob Menendez (D)
Since February 3, 2021
Ranking member Jim Risch (R)
Since February 3, 2021
Structure
Seats22 members
Political partiesMajority (11)
  •   Democratic (11)
Minority (11)
Jurisdiction
Policy areas Foreign policy, aid, diplomacy
Oversight authority Department of State
Agency for International Development
House counterpart House Committee on Foreign Affairs
Meeting place
423 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C.
Website
foreign.senate.gov
Rules

    The United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations is a standing committee of the U.S. Senate charged with leading foreign-policy legislation and debate in the Senate. It is generally responsible for overseeing and funding foreign aid programs; funding arms sales and training for national allies; and holding confirmation hearings for high-level positions in the Department of State. [1] Its sister committee in the House of Representatives is the Committee on Foreign Affairs. [note 1]

    Contents

    Along with the Finance and Judiciary committees, the Foreign Relations Committee is among the oldest in the Senate, dating to the initial creation of committees in 1816. [2] It has played a leading role in several important treaties and foreign policy initiatives, including the Alaska purchase, the establishment of the United Nations, and the passage of the Marshall Plan. [2] The committee has also produced eight U.S. presidentsAndrew Jackson, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Benjamin Harrison, Warren Harding, John F. Kennedy, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden—and 19 secretaries of state. Notable members include Arthur Vandenberg, Henry Cabot Lodge, and William Fulbright.

    Due to its long history, influence in U.S. foreign policy, jurisdiction over all diplomatic nominations, and its being the only Senate committee to deliberate and report treaties, the Foreign Relations Committee is considered one of the most powerful and prestigious in the Senate. [3]

    Since 2021, the chair of this committee is Democratic Senator Bob Menendez from New Jersey.

    Role

    In 1943, a confidential analysis of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by British scholar Isaiah Berlin for the Foreign Office stated: [4]

    The Senate of the United States ... keeps a close watch on foreign policy, not merely in theory but in practice. The two-thirds majority of the Senate needed for the ratification of all foreign treaties is only the best known of its powers, but its general control over all legislation and its power of veto over the appointment of ambassadors, and other high public officials, and the influence of its views over public opinion, give it a unique position in the determination of United States foreign policy. The organ within the Senate which moulds this policy is the Foreign Relations Committee, which has in its power to alter, delay and, under certain political circumstances, to veto almost any piece of major policy in this field.

    History

    Between 1887 and 1907, Alabama Democrat John Tyler Morgan played a leading role on the committee. Morgan called for a canal linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans through Nicaragua, enlarging the merchant marine and the Navy, and acquiring Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Cuba. He expected Latin American and Asian markets would become a new export market for Alabama's cotton, coal, iron, and timber. The canal would make trade with the Pacific much more feasible, and an enlarged military would protect that new trade. By 1905, most of his dreams had become reality, with the canal passing through Panama instead of Nicaragua. [5]

    Refusing to give the lady [Peace Treaty of Versailles] a seat--by Senators Borah, Lodge and Johnson Refusing to give the lady a seat --Treaty of Versailles.jpg
    Refusing to give the lady [Peace Treaty of Versailles] a seat—by Senators Borah, Lodge and Johnson

    During World War II, the committee took the lead in rejecting traditional isolationism and designing a new internationalist foreign policy based on the assumption that the United Nations would be a much more effective force than the old discredited League of Nations. Of special concern was the insistence that Congress play a central role in postwar foreign policy, as opposed to its ignorance of the main decisions made during the war. [6] Republican senator Arthur Vandenberg played the central role. [7]

    Committee chairman Senator J. William Fulbright (left) with Senator Wayne Morse during a hearing on the Vietnam War in 1966 Senator Wayne Morse with Senator William Fulbright at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 1966.jpg
    Committee chairman Senator J. William Fulbright (left) with Senator Wayne Morse during a hearing on the Vietnam War in 1966

    In 1966, as tensions over the Vietnam War escalated, the committee set up hearings on possible relations with Communist China. Witnesses, especially academic specialists on East Asia, suggested to the American public that it was time to adopt a new policy of containment without isolation. The hearings Indicated that American public opinion toward China had moved away from hostility and toward cooperation. The hearings had a long-term impact when Richard Nixon became president, discarded containment, and began a policy of détente with China. [8] The problem remained of how to deal simultaneously with the Chinese government on Taiwan after formal recognition was accorded to the Beijing government. The committee drafted the Taiwan Relations Act (US, 1979) which enabled the United States both to maintain friendly relations with Taiwan and to develop fresh relations with China. [9]

    In response to conservative criticism that the state department lacked hardliners, President Ronald Reagan in 1981 nominated Ernest W. Lefever as Assistant Secretary of State. Lefever performed poorly at his confirmation hearings and the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations rejected his nomination by vote of 4–13, prompting Lefever to withdraw his name. [10] Elliot Abrams filled the position.

    Republican senator Jesse Helms, a staunch conservative, was committee chairman in the late 1990s. He pushed for reform of the UN by blocking payment of U.S. membership dues. [11]

    Members, 117th Congress

    MajorityMinority

    Subcommittees

    SubcommitteesChairRanking Member
    Africa and Global Health Policy Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) Mike Rounds (R-SD)
    East Asia, The Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy Ed Markey (D-MA) Mitt Romney (R-UT)
    Europe and Regional Security Cooperation Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) Ron Johnson (R-WI)
    Multilateral International Development, Multilateral Institutions, and International Economic, Energy and Environmental Policy Chris Coons (D-DE) Rob Portman (R-OH)
    Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism Chris Murphy (D-CT) Todd Young (R-IN)
    State Department and USAID Management, International Operations, and Bilateral International Development Ben Cardin (D-MD) Bill Hagerty (R-TN)
    Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights and Global Women's Issues Tim Kaine (D-VA) Marco Rubio (R-FL)

    Chairmen (1816–present)

    1976 publication of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the occasion of its 160th anniversary Senate Foreign Relations Committee 160th Anniversity cover.jpg
    1976 publication of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the occasion of its 160th anniversary
    ChairmanPartyStateYears
    James Barbour Democratic-Republican Virginia 1816–1818
    Nathaniel Macon Democratic-Republican North Carolina 1818–1819
    James Brown Democratic-Republican Louisiana 1819–1820
    James Barbour Democratic-Republican Virginia 1820–1821
    Rufus King Federalist New York 1821–1822
    James Barbour Democratic-Republican Virginia 1822–1825
    Nathaniel Macon Democratic-Republican North Carolina 1825–1826
    Nathan Sanford Democratic-Republican New York 1826–1827
    Nathaniel Macon Democratic-Republican North Carolina 1827–1828
    Littleton Tazewell Democratic Virginia 1828–1832
    John Forsyth Democratic Georgia 1832–1833
    William Wilkins Democratic Pennsylvania 1833–1834
    Henry Clay Whig Kentucky 1834–1836
    James Buchanan Democratic Pennsylvania 1836–1841
    William C. Rives Whig Virginia 1841–1842
    William S. Archer Whig Virginia 1842–1845
    William Allen Democratic Ohio 1845–1846
    Ambrose H. Sevier Democratic Arkansas 1846–1848
    Edward A. Hannegan Democratic Indiana 1848–1849
    Thomas Hart Benton Democratic Missouri 1849
    William R. King Democratic Alabama 1849–1850
    Henry S. Foote Democratic Mississippi 1850–1851
    James M. Mason Democratic Virginia 1851–1861
    Charles Sumner Republican Massachusetts 1861–1871
    Simon Cameron Republican Pennsylvania 1871–1877
    Hannibal Hamlin Republican Maine 1877–1879
    William W. Eaton Democratic Connecticut 1879–1881
    Ambrose Burnside Republican Rhode Island 1881
    George F. Edmunds Republican Vermont 1881
    William Windom Republican Minnesota 1881–1883
    John F. Miller Republican California 1883–1886
    John Sherman Republican Ohio 1886–1893
    John T. Morgan Democratic Alabama 1893–1895
    John Sherman Republican Ohio 1895–1897
    William P. Frye Republican Maine 1897
    Cushman Davis Republican Minnesota 1897–1901
    Shelby M. Cullom Republican Illinois 1901–1911
    Augustus O. Bacon Democratic Georgia 1913–1914
    William J. Stone Democratic Missouri 1914–1918
    Gilbert M. Hitchcock Democratic Nebraska 1918–1919
    Henry Cabot Lodge Republican Massachusetts 1919–1924
    William E. Borah Republican Idaho 1924–1933
    Key Pittman Democratic Nevada 1933–1940
    Walter F. George Democratic Georgia 1940–1941
    Tom Connally Democratic Texas 1941–1947
    Arthur H. Vandenberg Republican Michigan 1947–1949
    Tom Connally Democratic Texas 1949–1953
    Alexander Wiley Republican Wisconsin 1953–1955
    Walter F. George Democratic Georgia 1955–1957
    Theodore F. Green Democratic Rhode Island 1957–1959
    J. William Fulbright Democratic Arkansas 1959–1975
    John J. Sparkman Democratic Alabama 1975–1979
    Frank Church Democratic Idaho 1979–1981
    Charles H. Percy Republican Illinois 1981–1985
    Richard Lugar Republican Indiana 1985–1987
    Claiborne Pell Democratic Rhode Island 1987–1995
    Jesse Helms Republican North Carolina 1995–2001
    Joe Biden Democratic Delaware 2001
    Jesse Helms Republican North Carolina 2001
    Joe Biden Democratic Delaware 2001–2003
    Richard Lugar Republican Indiana 2003–2007
    Joe Biden Democratic Delaware 2007–2009
    John Kerry Democratic Massachusetts 2009–2013
    Bob Menendez Democratic New Jersey 2013–2015
    Bob Corker Republican Tennessee 2015–2019
    Jim Risch Republican Idaho 2019–2021
    Bob Menendez Democratic New Jersey 2021–present

    Historical committee rosters

    Members, 116th Congress

    MajorityMinority
    SubcommitteesChairRanking Member
    Africa and Global Health Policy Lindsey Graham (R-SC) Tim Kaine (D-VA)
    East Asia, The Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy Cory Gardner (R-CO) Ed Markey (D-MA)
    Europe and Regional Security Cooperation Ron Johnson (R-WI) Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
    Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism Mitt Romney (R-UT) Chris Murphy (D-CT)
    Multilateral International Development, Multilateral Institutions, and International Economic, Energy and Environmental Policy Todd Young (R-IN) Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
    State Department and USAID Management, International Operations, and Bilateral International Development John Barrasso (R-WY) Cory Booker (D-NJ)
    Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights and Global Women's Issues Marco Rubio (R-FL) Ben Cardin (D-MD)

    Members, 115th Congress

    MajorityMinority
    SubcommitteesChairRanking Member
    Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism Jim Risch (R-ID) Tim Kaine (D-VA)
    Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights and Global Women's Issues Marco Rubio (R-FL) Ben Cardin (D-MD) since February 6, 2018
    Bob Menendez (D-NJ) until February 6, 2018
    Europe and Regional Security Cooperation Ron Johnson (R-WI) Chris Murphy (D-CT)
    Africa and Global Health Policy Jeff Flake (R-AZ) Cory Booker (D-NJ)
    East Asia, The Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy Cory Gardner (R-CO) Ed Markey (D-MA)
    Multilateral International Development, Multilateral Institutions, and International Economic, Energy and Environmental Policy Todd Young (R-IN) Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
    State Department and USAID Management, International Operations, and Bilateral International Development Johnny Isakson (R-GA) Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)

    Members, 114th Congress

    MajorityMinority

    Sources: 2015  Congressional Record, Vol. 161, Page  S297 –297, 661–662

    SubcommitteeChairRanking Member
    Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism Jim Risch (R-Idaho) Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)
    Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights and Global Women's Issues Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)
    Europe and Regional Security Cooperation Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)
    Africa and Global Health Policy Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) Ed Markey (D-Mass.)
    State Department and USAID Management, International Operations and Bilateral International Development Rand Paul (R-Ky.) Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)
    East Asia, The Pacific and International Cybersecurity Policy Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) Ben Cardin (D-Md.)
    International Development, Multilateral Institutions and International Economic, Energy and Environmental Policy John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) Tom Udall (D-N.M.)

    Members, 113th Congress

    MajorityMinority

    Sources: 2013  Congressional Record, Vol. 159, Page  S297 –297, 661–662

    Chris Murphy and another official from the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee inspecting burnt down printing press of Uthayan newspaper in Jaffna on December 7, 2013, while E. Saravanapavan, the managing director of the newspaper explaining something to him. US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Inspecting Burnt Down Printing Press of Uthayan Newspaper.jpg
    Chris Murphy and another official from the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee inspecting burnt down printing press of Uthayan newspaper in Jaffna on December 7, 2013, while E. Saravanapavan, the managing director of the newspaper explaining something to him.
    SubcommitteeChairRanking Member
    International Operations and Organizations, Human Rights, Democracy and Global Women's Issues Barbara Boxer (D-CA) Rand Paul (R-KY)
    East Asian and Pacific Affairs Ben Cardin (D-MD) Marco Rubio (R-FL)
    African Affairs Chris Coons (D-DE) Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
    Western Hemisphere and Global Narcotics Affairs Tom Udall (D-NM) John McCain (R-AZ)
    European Affairs Chris Murphy (D-CT) Ron Johnson (R-WI)
    Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs Tim Kaine (D-VA) Jim Risch (R-ID)
    International Development and Foreign Assistance, Economic Affairs and International Environmental Protection, and Peace Corps Tim Kaine (D-VA), until 2013
    Ed Markey (D-MA), from 2013
    John Barrasso (R-WY)

    See also

    Notes

    1. Renamed from Committee on International Relations by the 110th Congress in January 2007.

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    References

    1. "Committee History & Rules | United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations". www.foreign.senate.gov.
    2. 1 2 "Committee History & Rules | United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations". www.foreign.senate.gov. Retrieved January 22, 2021.
    3. "12.6 Committees", American Government and Politics in the Information Age, University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing edition, 2016. This edition adapted from a work originally produced in 2011 by a publisher who has requested that it not receive attribution., November 16, 2016, retrieved January 22, 2021
    4. Hachey, Thomas E. (Winter 1973–1974). "American Profiles on Capitol Hill: A Confidential Study for the British Foreign Office in 1943" (PDF). Wisconsin Magazine of History. 57 (2): 141–153. JSTOR   4634869. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 21, 2013.
    5. Joseph A. Fry, "John Tyler Morgan's Southern Expansionism," Diplomatic History (1985) 9#4 pp: 329-346.
    6. Roland Young, Congressional Politics in the Second World War (1958), pp 168–96
    7. James A. Gazell, "Arthur H. Vandenberg, Internationalism, and the United Nations." Political Science Quarterly (1973) pp: 375-394. in JSTOR
    8. Katherine Klinefelter, "The China Hearings: America's Shifting Paradigm on China," Congress & the Presidency (2011) 38#1 pp: 60-76.
    9. Jacob K. Javits, "Congress And Foreign Relations: The Taiwan Relations Act," Foreign Affairs (1981) 60#1 pp 54-62
    10. Robert David Johnson (2005). Congress and the Cold War. Cambridge UO. pp. 253–54. ISBN   9781139447447.
    11. William A. Link, Righteous Warrior: Jesse Helms and the Rise of Modern Conservatism (2008)
    12. Sen. Menendez voluntarily stepped down as Ranking Member on 1 April 2015 after being indicted by the Justice Department. Menendez Gives Up Foreign Relations Post

    Further reading

    Primary sources