- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 20, 2001

This week, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1646, the State Department Authorization bill. To our dismay and disappointment, absent from the debate and votes were discussions about several significant matters concerning the United Nations.

Worse than the prospect of depriving the Congress and the American public the opportunity to even discuss these issues about the U.N. is the cause of the truncated debate. The reason is strictly political political pressure exerted from the White House with the willing assistance of the Congressional Republican leadership, including the Rules Committee.

We were prepared to offer four amendments relating to the United Nations:

The first Bartlett amendment simply called for an accounting of U.S. contributions to U.N. peacekeeping operations. It would have withheld the second and third installments of arrearage payments until such time as the General Accounting Office completed a report documenting both the amount of funding from the United States for legitimate U.N. peacekeeping operations and reimbursements from the U.N. for U.S. expenses.

This amendment was only allowed after being watered down so it would have no practical effect. Then, it was approved on a voice vote by unanimous consent. What was not allowed was any impact upon this year´s payment of $582 million. The GAO report will document American contributions and U.N. reimbursements from 1990 to present. Unless and until the report is completed and submitted to Congress, next year´s third and final payment of $244 million will be withheld.

The second Bartlett amendment would have capped the United States contribution to U.N. peacekeeping at 25 percent, which has been U.S. law since 1994. H.R. 1646 raises this cap to 28.15 percent this year and never reaches the agreed-to 25 percent. It should be noted that the 25 percent rate was part of the Helms-Biden reform law under which Congress approved the payment of arrearages over three years in the first place.

The second Bartlett amendment was denied outright. Senior leadership staff informed Bartlett staff that this was strictly political that the White House did not want to have the Bartlett amendment on the House floor. Why? Because it would probably pass.

A Rohrabacher amendment concerning the U.N.´s Kyoto Protocol on global warming was denied outright. This is curious since the administration has rejected signing the Kyoto treaty.

The directives of the Kyoto Protocol would severely penalize American businesses, while some countries such as China and India would not be required to abide by the provisions of the protocol. This would give those countries a competitive advantage in international markets, undermining America´s industrial base. This would cause even more elements of American industry to move their production facilities overseas, costing the loss of more and more American jobs.

Two other amendments by Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Republican, were denied outright. One would remove funding for international peacekeeping. The second would prohibit funding of international family planning. These were common-sense amendments that would have saved American taxpayers millions, if not billions, of dollars.

To make matters worse, leadership allowed more Democratic amendments than Republican. We believe in being bipartisan, but let´s at least be fair. Of course, all of this comes on the heels of the United States being voted off two United Nations commissions. So what actions can the United States take to demonstrate our frustration with the United Nations?

Without question, we send them $582 million in questionable arrearages, then wag our fingers and say we might not pay $244 million next year. Every parent quickly learns that a child won´t behave in the present if you only threaten to withhold future treats. Rewarding bad behavior has never resulted in the good behavior desired. Carrying a rubber mallet and not requiring the United Nations to adhere to U.S. law while ignoring it ourselves does just that. The United Nations understands that even when we have set limits, we haven´t had the resolve to hold the U.N. accountable.

So why is anyone shocked, shocked the U.S. was voted off the Human Rights and Drug Trafficking Commissions? After the conclusion of the debate in the House this week, we will not be surprised to see little or no change toward the United States in the U.N.

From the previous administration and Democratic leadership, this stifling of even a debate about the U.N. would have been par for the course. Early in a new administration, it is troubling. It certainly is neither compassionate nor conservative. On the bright side, things can only get better.

Roscoe Bartlett, Maryland Republican, and Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican, are members of the U.S. House of Representatives.


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