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 of course the canal going to 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.
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.
Members, 114th Congress
|Majority (Republicans)||Minority (Democrats)|
Members, 113th Congress
|Majority (Democrats)||Minority (Republicans)|
|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
- Carter, Ralph G. and James Scott, eds. Choosing to Lead : Understanding Congressional Foreign Policy Entrepreneurs (Duke University Press, 2009)
- Crabb, Cecil Van Meter, and Pat M. Holt. Invitation to struggle: Congress, the president, and foreign policy (CQ Press, 1992)
- Dahl, Robert A. Congress and Foreign Policy (1950)
- Farnsworth, David Nelson. The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (University of Illinois Press, 1961), a topical survey of the Committee's activity from 1947 to 1956.
- Frye, Alton. "'Gobble'uns' and foreign policy: a review," Journal of Conflict Resolution (1964) 8#3 pp: 314-321. Historiographical review of major books
- Gagnon, Frédérick. "Dynamic Men: Vandenberg, Fulbright, Helms and the Activity of the Chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Since 1945." online (2013)
- Gazell, James A. "Arthur H. Vandenberg, Internationalism, and the United Nations." Political Science Quarterly (1973): 375-394. in JSTOR
- Gould, Lewis. The Most Exclusive Club : A History of the Modern United States Senate (2006)
- Hewes, James E. Jr. "Henry Cabot Lodge and the League of Nations". Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society (1970) 114#4 pp: 245–255.
- Hitchens, Harold L., "Influences of the Congressional Decision to Pass the Marshall Plan" Western Political Science Quarterly (1968) 21#1 pp: 51-68. in JSTOR
- Jewell, Malcolm E. Senatorial Politics and Foreign Policy (U. of Kentucky Press, 1962)
- Kaplan, Lawrence S. The Conversion of Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg: From Isolation to International Engagement (University Press of Kentucky, 2015)
- Link, William A. Righteous Warrior: Jesse Helms and the Rise of Modern Conservatism (2008)
- McCormick, James M. "Decision making in the foreign affairs and foreign relations committees." in Randall B. Ripley and James M. Lindsay, eds.. Congress resurgent: foreign and defense policy on Capitol Hill (University of Michigan press, 1993) pp: 115-153
- Maguire, Lori. "The US Congress and the politics of Afghanistan: an analysis of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees during George W Bush's second term." Cambridge Review of International Affairs (2013) 26#2 pp: 430-452.
- Shaw, John T. (2012). Richard G. Lugar, Statesman of the Senate: Crafting Foreign Policy from Capitol Hill. Indiana UP. p. 73.
- Robinson, James A. Congress and Foreign Policy-Making (1962), statistical study of roll calls emphasizing the importance of the Committee
- Spanier, John, and Joseph Nogee, eds. Congress, the Presidency and American Foreign Policy (Elsevier, 2013)
- Warburg, Gerald Felix. Conflict and consensus: The struggle between Congress and the president over foreign policymaking (HarperCollins Publishers, 1989)
- Woods, Randall Bennett. Fulbright : A Biography (Cambridge University Press, 1995)
- Young, Roland. Congressional Politics in the Second World War (1958), pp 168–96
- Vandenberg, Arthur Hendrick, and Joe Alex Morris, eds. The private papers of Senator Vandenberg. (1952)
- U.S. Senate Committee of Foreign Relations Official Website
- U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) Page for the Committee of Foreign Relations