A deeply divided House of Representatives panel on Thursday approved a Republican bill that would slash U.S. contributions to the United Nations, rejecting Democratic complaints that the measure would end American involvement in the world peacekeeping body and deliver a devastating financial blow.
One week after cutting $50 million for a U.N. organization that helps women and children in developing countries, the House Foreign Affairs Committee targeted the billions of dollars the United States contributes to the United Nations. Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the committee chairwoman and a fierce critic of the United Nations, argued that the legislation would give the United States leverage in pushing for change at the U.N.
"We will never achieve lasting, sweeping reforms if the U.S. keeps paying in full what the U.N. dictates to us, with no consequences for the U.N.'s failures," Ros-Lehtinen said. "We need a game-changer."
The panel approved the bill on a party-line 23-15 vote. The action came despite Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's opposition and her vow to recommend to President Barack Obama that he veto the legislation. That may not be necessary, however, as it is unclear when the full House will consider the measure, and it has little chance in the Democratic-led Senate.
Republican New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg also opposes the legislation, according to Rep. Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat.
Clinton sent a strongly worded letter to the committee this week warning that the legislation would severely limit U.S. participation in the world body, undercut U.S. interests and damage the security of Americans at home and abroad.
"This bill would effectively cede American leadership, creating a void for our adversaries to fill," Clinton wrote.
Nevertheless, the panel pressed ahead with the measure, with Republicans taking swipes at the U.N.