On July 15, by a vote of 74 to 350, the House easily defeated an amendment to the Foreign Relations Authorization Act (H.R. 1950), which would have withheld all U.S. funds from the United Nations and its agencies.
The proposed amendment, introduced by libertarian Rep. Ron Paul (R.-Tex.), would have essentially ended U.S. participation in the controversial international organization.
Paul cited the $3.25 billion spent on contributions to the UN and other UN agencies last year, and the fact that the U.S. pays 21% of the organizations budget and over 27% of the budget for UN peacekeeping missions.
“It is not a good investment,” Paul said on the House floor. “I think this is essentially wasted money.”
Paul also raised fears, shared by many conservatives, that the UN is eroding U.S. autonomy. “We also lose our sovereignty when we look to the UN for guidance,” he said. “I do not see where it is to our benefit, I do not see where it is a benefit to world peace to rely on the United Nations. . .I believe in many ways that by joining the United Nations we have allowed our Constitution to be amended merely by UN vote. Referring to poorly executed UN peacekeeping missions, Paul argued, “[T]he United Nations has tended to take away the responsibilities of this Congress to make these very, very important decisions.”
Paul, who opposed the Iraq war, questioned why Congress would fund the UN and pay much lip service to its functions, even though the U.S. received no support from the UN on the war.
He also pointed out the absurdity of many UN actions-such as the recent appointment of Libya as the chairman of the Commission on Human Rights, and attempts to place Iraq in charge of the Disarmament Commission.
“It gets to be almost a joke around the world about some of the things the UN does,” he said.
Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R.-Md.) also backed the amendment, arguing that, regardless of whether the UN is an efficacious organization, its failure to credit $17 billion that the U.S. has spent on legitimate UN peacekeeping activities is reason enough to quit funding it.
Those who opposed the bill did so on the notion that the U.N. advances U.S. national interests.
Rising in what he called, “the strongest possible opposition to the Paul amendment,” Rep. Tom Lantos (D.- Calif.), argued, “The absurdity of the United States, the one remaining superpower, the most powerful civilizing force on the face of this planet in the 21st Century, withdrawing from the United Nations is nothing short of absurd.”
Lantos claimed that truly wasteful and often evil UN agencies such as UNESCO, the World Health Organization, and UNICEF promote U.S. foreign policy objectives.
Rep. Henry Hyde (R.-Ill.) also argued against this “tempting amendment” to the bill, citing the efforts of the World Food Program, the Food and Agricultural Organization, and the Civil Aviation Organization.
Referring to such organizations as “feel-good social welfare programs,” Paul countered, “I think I would grant that some of these programs have had some benefit. That in itself is not enough for me to endorse the concept of international welfare through the United Nations.”
A spokesman for liberal Rep. David Obey (D.-Wisc.) told HUMAN EVENTS later that his vote for the amendment was cast in error.
A “yes” vote was a vote to stop giving money to the United Nations. A “no” vote was a vote against the amendment.
|FOR THE AMENDMENT: 74||AGAINST THE AMENDMENT: 350|
|REPUBLICANS FOR: 72
Davis, Jo Ann
DEMOCRATS FOR: 2
|REPUBLICANS AGAINST: 150
DEMOCRATS AGAINST: 199
INDEPENDENT AGAINST: 1
NOT VOTING: 10
|REPUBLICANS (6):||DEMOCRATS (4):||INDEPENDENTS (0)|