With Sen. John Kerry expected to leave the Senate to serve as Secretary of State, the committee that oversees international aid will get new leadership, as well as four new Republican members. The addition of two new Democrats, Sen. Chris Murphy (D – CT) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) was announced in December.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D -NJ), who came to the Senate in 2006, is next in line to lead the committee he has served on for the last six years, and where he currently chairs the subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Peace Corps and Narcotics Affairs, upon Sen. John Kerry’s departure. Menendez, who served in Congress from 1993 to 2006, also has served on the Subcommittees on International Operations and Organizations, Human Rights, Democracy, and Global Women’s Issues, on International Development and Foreign Assistance, Economic Affairs and International Environmental Protection, and on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs. In a 2007 Foreign Relations Committee hearing on The Next Phase of the Global Fight against HIV/AIDS, he prodded the then PEPFAR head and Global AIDS Ambassador Mark Dybul on responses to the AIDS epidemic in Latin America, on the need to integrate tuberculosis and HIV screening and treatment, and on the need to integrate immune cell count testing into national HIV programs. In questions submitted after Dybul’s testimony, Menendez also raised the issues of the need to prevent HIV transmission by promoting safe injection practices, on strengthening health infrastructures in PEPFAR countries, and on addressing drug-resistant tuberculosis in PEPFAR programs.
Sen. Bob Corker (R -TN), elected to the Senate in 2006, will replace Sen. Richard Lugar as lead Republican on the committee he has served for the last six years. The former Chatanooga mayor has said his interest in public service was sparked by a church trip to Haiti in the late 1970s. He was a co-sponsor of the Haiti rebuilding act, one of the signers of a 2008 letter urging Senate majority and minority leaders to promote PEPFAR reauthorization, and met with Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby for an update on PEPFAR’s progress before the July International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC.
Sen. John McCain (R- AZ) – A senator since 1987, McCain joins the Senate Foreign Relations committee for the first time. McCain, elected to the House of Representatives in 1982, served on that body’s Foreign Affairs Committee and has taken a role in international issues as ranking member of the Senate Armed Services committee, a term-limited leadership role he now leaves.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R- AZ), elected to the Senate in November, joins his Arizona colleague on the committee. Flake, who served in the House of Representatives from 2001 to 2013, where he was a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee as well as the Committee on Appropriations, and where he voted against the reauthorization of PEPFAR in 2008. After travelling as a Mormon missionary to Zimbabwe and South Africa in the early 1980s, he testified before Congress in opposition to economic sanctions against South Africa’s Apartheid regime.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R- WI), elected in 2011, joins the Foreign Relations Committee, and also sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. He came to the senate on his first bid for public office, and previously was in plastic sheeting manufacturing.
Sen. Rand Paul (R – KY) comes to the Foreign Relations committee as one of just three members of the Senate to vote for an amendment he proposed during “Fiscal Cliff” negotiations — to cut $9 million from the International Affairs budget. A senator since 2010, he is an opthalmologist, and also serves on the HELP — Health, Education, Labor and Pensions — Committee.