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Henry J. Hyde United Nations Reform Act of 2005, part 2

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


HENRY J. HYDE UNITED NATIONS REFORM ACT OF 2005 -- (House of Representatives - June 17, 2005)

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Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

As someone who appreciates the work performed by the International Labor Organization and efforts to bring about and secure labor rights for oppressed people in countries under dictatorial rule, it is with difficulty that I rise in opposition of the gentleman's amendment, but I must.

Had the amendment called on the U.S. permanent representative to the U.N. to work to strengthen the ILO, to increase site inspections, as we had wanted to do, I am confident that we would have gladly supported the gentleman's amendment.

However, this amendment before us today does not seek to reform the ILO, but seeks to use the U.N. to dictate and determine domestic policies of the U.N. member states, policies such as Social Security schemes and employee benefits; and these are issues that in the U.S., for example, we in the Congress are working on and are responsible for. We should not use legislation that seeks to reform the U.N., an international institution, as a means of influencing very specific domestic policy initiatives.

The bill before us, the Henry Hyde U.N. Reform Act of 2005, deals with bringing accountability to the U.N.'s budget process. It does not concern itself with dictating internal, substantive outcomes on the U.N.'s budget process.

In short, today, we are focused on reforming how the U.S., how the U.N. makes the decisions, not on what decisions it makes or what the member states make.

The gentleman from Ohio would have been, I believe, better served by offering his amendment, as others have, by it having called upon the President to direct the U.S. permanent representative to work to ensure enhanced funding for the international labor rights organization, which I believe is a worthy goal, and on that very issue, in fact, this is already being done.

The amendment suggests that the ILO is not doing enough in the social protection sector. However, the 2006-2007 budget that was agreed to shows a significant increase in the budget for the activities of this sector.

The 2004-2005 budget for the protection sector was $72.7 million in 2006, and the 2007 budget is $91 million.

Overall, the International Labor Organization budget increased 12 percent from $529 million during the 2004 and 2005 biennium to $594 million in 2006 and 2007. That is $297 million per year.

The amendment also requires an increase in the field presence by the ILO. However, the organization is currently undertaking a review of the field structures to determine the most effective overseas profile, and this amendment would have the effect of preempting the outcome of this study.

I have been a proud supporter of labor organizations. We want to make sure that they help the oppressed people in all of these countries and do not abuse their people. However, I do not think that this amendment, dictating what member states do with their domestic policies, would get to the heart of the gentleman's amendment.

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Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Chairman, I thank our great esteemed chairman, Chairman Hyde, for yielding me this time.

By limiting instruments of persuasion to an authorization by the Secretary of State to withhold U.S. dues, this substitute would all but guarantee that few of these reforms would actually be implemented. Much of the world, including many at the U.N., would be excused if they saw any threats as a mere bluff. The historical record tells us very accurately that any level of success can only be done if we use our leverage. If we adopt the Lantos-Shays substitute amendment, we will not have that leverage.

My colleagues maintain that our legislation does not afford sufficient flexibility. Yet a fair reading of this text reveals that that is just not the case. First, the certifications for action are not required until the year 2007. Secondly, this legislation allows the Secretary of State to certify U.N. reforms that are substantially similar to, or accomplish the same goals and the same objectives as, the Hyde U.N. Reform Act. That is plenty of flexibility, Mr. Chairman.

If the U.N. does on its own institute these reforms, then we have no problems. The withholding provisions in the Henry Hyde U.N. Reform Act will only be triggered and implemented if the U.N. does not reform itself. The onus is on the U.N. to fulfill its stated commitment to reform.

The Constitution gives to Congress the responsibility for determining how the public's money will be spent. The Lantos substitute proposes to surrender that obligation, that principal source of congressional authority, to an unelected official of the executive branch who has not been entrusted with it by the Constitution. However burdensome that task is, Mr. Chairman, it is ours to carry out.

Reforming the U.N. is about lives. It is not just about policies. Let us carry out our obligation to the taxpayers by rejecting the Lantos substitute and by affirming the Hyde bill.

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