United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
The United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations is a standing committee of the United States Senate. It is charged with leading foreign-policy legislation and debate in the Senate. The Foreign Relations Committee is generally responsible for overseeing (but not administering) and funding foreign aid programs as well as funding arms sales and training for national allies. The committee is also responsible for holding confirmation hearings for high-level positions in the Department of State. The committee has considered, debated, and reported important treaties and legislation, ranging from the Alaska purchase in 1867 to the establishment of the United Nations in 1945. It also holds jurisdiction over all diplomatic nominations. Along with the Finance and Judiciary committees, the Foreign Relations Committee is one of the oldest in the Senate, going back to the initial creation of committees in 1816. Its sister committee in the House of Representatives is the Committee on Foreign Affairs (renamed from International Relations by the 110th Congress in January 2007).
Between 1887–1907, 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.
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. Republican senator Arthur Vandenberg played the central role. In 1943, a confidential analysis of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was made by British scholar Isaiah Berlin for the Foreign Office.
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. 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.
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. Elliot Abrams filled the position.
Members, 116th Congress
Members, 115th Congress
|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
|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
|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)|
- History of the Committee
- Joseph A. Fry, "John Tyler Morgan's Southern Expansionism," Diplomatic History (1985) 9#4 pp: 329-346.
- Roland Young, Congressional Politics in the Second World War (1958), pp 168–96
- 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.
- James A. Gazell, "Arthur H. Vandenberg, Internationalism, and the United Nations." Political Science Quarterly (1973) pp: 375-394. in JSTOR
- Katherine Klinefelter, "The China Hearings: America's Shifting Paradigm on China," Congress & the Presidency (2011) 38#1 pp: 60-76.
- Jacob K. Javits, "Congress And Foreign Relations: The Taiwan Relations Act," Foreign Affairs (1981) 60#1 pp 54-62
- Robert David Johnson (2005). Congress and the Cold War. Cambridge UO. pp. 253–54.
- William A. Link, Righteous Warrior: Jesse Helms and the Rise of Modern Conservatism (2008)
- 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