The Republican National Committee yesterday took the first step toward endorsing a proposal by Irish rock star Bono to spend an estimated $30 billion in U.S. taxes to eliminate global poverty — a move some unhappy conservative RNC members labeled a step toward socialism.
But the RNC's Resolutions Committee also pleased conservatives by endorsing a resolution calling on the federal government to devote all means necessary to securing the nation's borders against an influx of illegal aliens.
"The Republican National Committee has taken the first step toward telling Congress the highest priority is to secure our borders now," said Arizona Republican Party Chairman Randy Pullen. "If you don't do anything else — we don't need to have a guest-worker program, we don't need comprehensive immigration reform — we need to secure the borders now."
The full 165-member RNC is expected to approve the resolution today, the second day of the four-day RNC annual summer meeting here.
The resolution, presented by Mr. Pullen, conspicuously lacks any reference to programs supported by President Bush, Sen. John McCain of Arizona or Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida, the RNC's general chairman, that would legitimize illegal aliens already in the United States or launch a "guest-worker" program.
The version of Mr. Pullen's immigration resolution endorsed by the committee gives some credit to Mr. Bush. The resolution notes that over the past seven years, the president proposed boosting border security funding three-fold and doubling the size of the Border Patrol to more than 18,000 officers, among other things.
In a move that some conservative members said astonished them, the resolutions committee did not rescind the RNC's earlier endorsement of a plan to designate 1 percent of the federal budget for the "One" global anti-poverty program.
Opponents of the proposal had complained that without seeking their advice or consent, RNC Chairman Robert M. "Mike" Duncan on June 11 unilaterally put the RNC on record as supporting the movement.
"It's hard to believe my party would vote for something like this, which sounds like a do-gooder program," said John H. Hager, the new Virginia Republican Party chairman.
Mr. Pullen also opposed the Bono-initiated program "One," which is co-chaired by Jack Oliver, a Bush 2000 campaign fundraiser and Washington-based lobbyist. RNC members said Mr. Oliver sent two persons to the Minneapolis meeting to lobby members in favor of the "One" program, and its offshoot "One Vote '08," which aims to make global poverty and health a key issue in the 2008 presidential election.
"I don't think we should be allocating 1 percent of the U.S. budget for relief around the world," Mr. Pullen said. "That's not the business of government. The private sector gives billions of dollars to supporting worthy causes. That's always been the American way. Donating money to countries that don't live by the rule of law or who have warlords killing people is feeding, not fixing, the problem."
Mr. Duncan, who was the choice of the Bush White House to run the day-to-day affairs of the RNC, said in June, "One Vote '08 is doing an amazing, compassionate thing, and I am proud to say the RNC supports their efforts completely."
North Dakota rancher and RNC member Curly Haugland took exception to the Duncan statement, proposing his own resolution. He said the U.S. has an $8.8 trillion debt and that "One Vote '08" will force Americans to support global socialism with their tax dollars."
Oregon RNC member Solomon Yue offered a resolution that was heavily sprinkled with language that appeals to conservatives. The Yue resolution said, "International organizations that provide development aid must be corruption free" and "must not encroach on U.S. sovereignty."
The Rules Committee recommended Mr. Yue's wording — which doesn't mention Mr. Duncan's stated support for the "One Vote '08" campaign — for a floor vote today while rejecting Mr. Haugland's wording.
"The committee circled the wagons around Chairman Duncan," Mr. Haugland said afterward.