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Thursday, September 01, 2011

White House opposes Ros-Lehtinen bill on UN

On Monday, I reported on a bill introduced by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fl) to cut off funding for the United Nations in the event that it upgrades the status of the 'Palestinian' mission to the United Nations. There's actually a lot more to the bill than that - I am embedding a summary issued by Ros-Lehtinen's office below. As you will see, the bill would also seek to:

1. Make UN funding voluntary.

2. Allow the GAO to audit the use of US contributions to the UN (and allow funding only to UN agencies who pledge to cooperate in such audits).

3. Require the State Department to report to Congress on UN reform and personnel practices.

4. The 'Palestinian' provision I discussed on Monday.

5. Several measures that would nullify the Goldstone Report.

6. Takes the US off the 'Human Rights Council' until its membership is cleaned up.

7. Withholds funding from the Durban process.

8. Withholds funding from UNRWA.

9. Seeks to reform the IAEA to make it better able to monitor member states' compliance.

10. Reforms UN peacekeeping.

The full summary is below (2-page Word document). I have more about this after the fold.

Summary- United Nations Transparency, Accountability, And Reform Act

The State Department opposes Ros-Lehtinen's bill.
The State Department said it was opposed to Ros-Lehtinen's legislation to revamp UN funding because, as spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, it would "seriously undermine our international standing and dangerously weaken the UN as an instrument to advance US national security goals."

"We believe in U.N. reform, we just don't think that this is the right way to go about it," Nuland said. The United States called on Monday for the rescinding of a nearly 3 percent cost of living pay increase to almost 5,000 UN employees in New York, saying it was inappropriate at a time of austerity.
Jonathan Tobin reports that the White House is opposed as well and will cause the Senate to oppose Ros-Lehtinen's bill.
But while Ros-Lehtinen’s bill is likely to pass the House, it will face a rough time in the Senate due to opposition from the White House. An administration source told Politico: “This draft legislation is dated, tired, and frankly unresponsive to the positive role being played by the UN.” This raises the question: is President Obama willing to head into a re-election contest flying the flag of the UN?

The White House claims Republican critics of the UN are ignoring the positive role the institution has played in Afghanistan and Libya. It argues that American influence at the world body is maximized when the U.S. is fully engaged and paying the 22 percent of the UN’s budget that flows from Washington. But Obama’s “don’t worry, be happy” approach to the UN has done nothing to convince its members to stop trying to kill the peace process by voting to recognize an independent Palestinian state without first requiring it to make peace with Israel. Nor has the administration used its supposedly weighty influence at Turtle Bay to transform UNRWA or the Human Rights Council, both of which exist primarily in order to perpetuate the Arab war against Israel. Despite progress on some fronts, the UN and its affiliate agencies remain a cesspool of anti-Semitism and bias against Israel as the upcoming Durban III UN conference (which, to its credit, the administration plans to boycott) proves yet again.
Read the whole thing.

The US pays anywhere from 22% (general) to 27% (peacekeeping) of the UN's budget. For 2010, the US contribution came to more than $3.8 billion, and for 2011, the Obama administration has requested nearly $4.3 billion. Given the current economic crisis in the US, it is incredible to me that an organization that does so much that is anathema to the American people, and which has been shown to be corrupt so many times in the past, is given such huge amounts of American taxpayer money without any oversight.

And Obama's friend Rashid Khalidi is worried about $3 billion that is given to Israel, with whom the US shares democratic values, and most of which is spent in the US anyway.

Republicans need to get behind this bill and either push it through or make the Democrats pay a heavy political price for its failure.

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At 2:27 PM, Blogger debbie said...

I sent this to Rush and Sean and asked them to comment on their shows. It should be widely supported.

At 10:28 PM, Blogger Captain.H said...

"Republicans need to get behind this bill and either push it through or ."

I think the Republicans could push this bill through the House, if they really wanted to. However, we could confidently expect the Senate Democrat majority to squash the bill. I do think that the Republicans could, with concerted effort, "make the Democrats pay a heavy political price for its failure". That is a worthy goal.


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