New leadership of House Foreign Affairs brings contrasting views of committee role, global health approaches

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As noted earlier here,  U. S. House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s December announcement of  Democratic Ranking Members for 113thCongress House Committees saw one global health champion, Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), who lost his seat in November’s election, succeeded by another, with the ascent of Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) to ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. With Republicans holding on to control of the House, the party’s term limit rules will see the chairmanship of the committee also change hands, passing from Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) to long time committee member, Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) as he begins his 11th term in Congress.

As he welcomed new members Jan. 3, Royce articulated his goals for the committee, which included “tackling Iran’s nuclear program,” furthering U.S. economic growth overseas, responding to security threats and new governments in the Middle East, and providing “aggressive oversight of foreign aid.”

Royce brings a mixed record on global health support to the post, having voted yes to the original Leadership Act that authorized the $15 billion President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief in 2003, but then voting against reauthorization of  PEPFAR in 2008, as the global AIDS response prepared for a transition from emergency to sustainable humanitarian response.

Royce, who chaired the Africa subcommittee from 1997 to 2004, has traveled to Africa frequently and notes on his committee page that he “held some 70 hearings examining a wide range of issues of importance to Africa and the United States,” listing ones addressing war crimes, genocide, and peace prospects. He also notes his role in co-founding and co-chairing the Congressional International Conservation Caucus, highlighting work to authorize the Congo Basin Partnership to protect rain forests and endangered species.

Before his election to Congress in 1992, Royce served for a decade in the California State Senate.



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