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What Is the House Foreign Affairs Committee?

Generally, a congressional committee is a sub-organization of Congress that addresses issues related to a specified area of legislation or duty. In other words, a congressional committee is a legislative delegate to Congress. The House Foreign Affairs Committee is a sub-organization of the House of Representatives that considers legislation impacting the diplomatic community, which includes national and international governmental organizations, as well as non-governmental organizations. The Department of State, the Agency for International Development (USAID), the Peace Corps, and the United Nations, for example, are all members of the diplomatic community.

What Does the House Foreign Affairs Committee Do?

The House Foreign Affairs Committee is responsible for oversight and legislation relating to, among other areas, foreign assistance, military activity, enforcement of international sanctions, promotion of democracy abroad, and all other matters not specifically assigned to a subcommittee. As stated on the Committee’s website, “The Committee may conduct oversight with respect to any matter within the jurisdiction of the Committee as defined in the Rules of the House of Representatives.” Rule X, section (i) of the Rules specifically covers the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

How can the House Foreign Affairs Committee help alleviate Global Poverty?

As mentioned, the House Foreign Affairs Committee is responsible for oversight and legislation related to foreign assistance. Specifically, the Committee is charged with oversight and legislation regarding relations of the United States with foreign nations, foreign loans, diplomatic service, and measures to foster commercial intercourse with foreign nations and to safeguard American business interests abroad. As part of this unique mandate, the House Foreign Affairs Committee has not only the power to sponsor direct foreign aid programs to help fight global poverty in foreign countries, but also the responsibility to ensure such measures are taken because American investment in the relief of global poverty is an investment in the American economy.

Former Secretary of Homeland Security, Gov. Tom Ridge was quoted as saying, “By building new markets overseas for American products, the International Affairs budget creates jobs and boosts the economy here at home.” USAID is a clear example of how our assistance develops future markets, as “long-time aid recipients have become strong partners and are the fastest growing markets for American goods.” For exactly this reason and in line with it’s unique mandate, the House Foreign Affairs Committee has both the capacity and an obvious responsibility to help alleviate global poverty.

Contacting your congressperson to voice your opinion on investment in the relief of global poverty goes a long way in creating support for effective policy. To find out if your congressperson is on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, visit their website. You can follow the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Twitter: @HFACrepublicans.

– Herman Watson

Photo: Zimbio
Source: GovTrack, Ed Royce, The Hill, USDA Local & Regional Food Procurement, House Foreign Affairs Committee