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""United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.jpg

The United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations is a "standing committee of the "United States "Senate. It is charged with leading "foreign-policy legislation and debate in the Senate. The Foreign Relations Committee is generally responsible for overseeing (but not administering) and funding "foreign aid programs as well as funding arms sales and training for national allies. The committee is also responsible for holding "confirmation hearings for high-level positions in the "Department of State. The committee has considered, debated, and reported important treaties and legislation, ranging from the "Alaska purchase in 1867 to the establishment of the "United Nations in 1945. It also holds jurisdiction over all diplomatic nominations.[1] Along with the "Finance and "Judiciary Committees, the Foreign Relations Committee is one of the oldest in the Senate, going back to the initial creation of committees in 1816. Its sister committee in the "House of Representatives is the "Committee on Foreign Affairs (renamed from International Relations by the "110th Congress in January 2007).



Between 1887–1907, Alabama Democrat "John Tyler Morgan played a leading role on the Committee. Morgan called for a canal linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans through Nicaragua, enlarging the merchant marine and the Navy, and acquiring Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Cuba. He expected Latin American and Asian markets would become a new export market for Alabama's cotton, coal, iron, and timber. The canal would make trade with the Pacific much more feasible, and an enlarged military would protect that new trade. By 1905, most of his dreams had become reality, with the canal passing through Panama instead of Nicaragua.[2]

During World War II, the committee took the lead in rejecting traditional isolationism and designing a new internationalist foreign policy based on the assumption that the United Nations would be a much more effective force than the old discredited League of Nations. Of special concern was the insistence that Congress play a central role in postwar foreign policy, as opposed to its ignorance of the main decisions made during the war.[3] Republican Senator "Arthur Vandenberg played the central role.In 1943, a confidential analysis of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was made by British scholar "Isaiah Berlin for the "Foreign Office.[4] [5]

Committee Chairman Senator "J. William Fulbright (left) with Senator "Wayne Morse during a hearing on the Vietnam War in 1966

In 1966, as tensions over the "Vietnam War escalated, the Committee set up hearings on possible relations with Communist China. Witnesses, especially academic specialists on East Asia, suggested to the American public that it was time to adopt a new policy of containment without isolation. The hearings Indicated that American public opinion toward China had moved away from hostility and toward cooperation. The hearings had a long-term impact when Richard Nixon became president, discarded containment, and began a policy of détente with China.[6] The problem remained of how to deal simultaneously with the Chinese government on Taiwan after formal recognition was accorded to the Beijing government. The Committee drafted the Taiwan Relations Act (US, 1979) which enabled the United States both to maintain friendly relations with Taiwan and to develop fresh relations with China.[7]

In response to conservative criticism that the state department lacked hardliners, "President Ronald Reagan in 1981 nominated "Ernest W. Lefever as "Assistant Secretary of State. Lefever performed poorly at his confirmation hearings and the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations rejected his nomination by vote of 4-13, prompting Lefever to withdraw his name.[8] "Elliot Abrams filled the position.

Republican Senator "Jesse Helms, a staunch conservative, was Committee chairman in the late 1990s. He pushed for reform of the UN by blocking payment of U.S. membership dues.[9]

Members, 115th Congress[edit]

Majority Minority


Subcommittees Chair Ranking Member
"Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism "Jim Risch (R-ID) "Tim Kaine (D-VA)
"Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights and Global Women's Issues "Marco Rubio (R-FL) "Ben Cardin (D-MD)
"Europe and Regional Security Cooperation "Ron Johnson (R-WI) "Chris Murphy (D-CT)
"Africa and Global Health Policy "Jeff Flake (R-AZ) "Cory Booker (D-NJ)
"East Asia, The Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy "Cory Gardner (R-CO) "Ed Markey (D-MA)
"Multilateral International Development, Multilateral Institutions, and International Economic, Energy and Environmental Policy "Todd Young (R-IN) "Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
"State Department and USAID Management, International Operations, and Bilateral International Development "Johnny Isakson (R-GA) "Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)

Historical members[edit]

Members, 114th Congress[edit]

Majority Minority

Sources: 2015 "Congressional Record, Vol. 161, Page S297 –297, 661–662

Subcommittee Chair Ranking Member
"Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism "Jim Risch (R-Idaho) "Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)
"Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights and Global Women's Issues "Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) "Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)
"Europe and Regional Security Cooperation "Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) "Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)
"Africa and Global Health Policy "Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) "Ed Markey (D-Mass.)
"State Department and USAID Management, International Operations and Bilateral International Development "Rand Paul (R-Ky.) "Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)
"East Asia, The Pacific and International Cybersecurity Policy "Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) "Ben Cardin (D-Md.)
"International Development, Multilateral Institutions and International Economic, Energy and Environmental Policy "John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) "Tom Udall (D-N.M.)

Members, 113th Congress[edit]

Majority Minority

Sources: 2013 "Congressional Record, Vol. 159, Page S297 –297, 661–662

Chris Murphy and another official from the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee inspecting burnt down printing press of "Uthayan newspaper in "Jaffna on December 7, 2013 while "E. Saravanapavan, the Managing Director of the newspaper explaining something to him.
Subcommittee Chair Ranking Member
"International Operations and Organizations, Human Rights, Democracy and Global Women's Issues "Barbara Boxer (D-CA) "Rand Paul (R-KY)
"East Asian and Pacific Affairs "Ben Cardin (D-MD) "Marco Rubio (R-FL)
"African Affairs "Chris Coons (D-DE) "Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
"Western Hemisphere and Global Narcotics Affairs "Tom Udall (D-NM) "John McCain (R-AZ)
"European Affairs "Chris Murphy (D-CT) "Ron Johnson (R-WI)
"Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs "Tim Kaine (D-VA) "Jim Risch (R-ID)
"International Development and Foreign Assistance, Economic Affairs and International Environmental Protection, and Peace Corps "Tim Kaine (D-VA), until 2013
"Ed Markey (D-MA), from 2013
"John Barrasso (R-WY)

Chairmen (1816–present)[edit]

Chairman Party State Years
"James Barbour "Democratic Republican "Virginia 1816–1818
"Nathaniel Macon "Democratic-Republican "North Carolina 1818–1819
"James Brown "Democratic Republican "Louisiana 1819–1820
"James Barbour "Democratic Republican "Virginia 1820–1821
"Rufus King "Federalist "New York 1821–1822
"James Barbour "Democratic Republican "Virginia 1822–1825
"Nathaniel Macon "Democratic-Republican "North Carolina 1825–1826
"Nathan Sanford "Democratic-Republican "New York 1826–1827
"Nathaniel Macon "Democratic-Republican "North Carolina 1827–1828
"Littleton Tazewell "Democratic "Virginia 1828–1832
"John Forsyth "Democratic "Georgia 1832–1833
"William Wilkins "Democratic "Pennsylvania 1833–1834
"Henry Clay "Whig "Kentucky 1834–1836
"James Buchanan "Democratic "Pennsylvania 1836–1841
"William C. Rives "Whig "Virginia 1841–1842
"William S. Archer "Whig "Virginia 1842–1845
"William Allen "Democratic "Ohio 1845–1846
"Ambrose H. Sevier "Democratic "Arkansas 1846–1848
"Edward A. Hannegan "Democratic "Indiana 1848–1849
"Thomas Hart Benton "Democratic "Missouri 1849
"William R. King "Democratic "Alabama 1849–1850
"Henry S. Foote "Democratic "Mississippi 1850–1851
"James M. Mason "Democratic "Virginia 1851–1861
"Charles Sumner "Republican "Massachusetts 1861–1871
"Simon Cameron "Republican "Pennsylvania 1871–1877
"Hannibal Hamlin "Republican "Maine 1877–1879
"William W. Eaton "Democratic "Connecticut 1879–1881
"Ambrose Burnside "Republican "Rhode Island 1881
"George F. Edmunds "Republican "Vermont 1881
"William Windom "Republican "Minnesota 1881–1883
"John F. Miller "Republican "California 1883–1886
"John Sherman "Republican "Ohio 1886–1893
"John T. Morgan "Democratic "Alabama 1893–1895
"John Sherman "Republican "Ohio 1895–1897
"William P. Frye "Republican "Maine 1897
"Cushman Davis "Republican "Minnesota 1897–1901
"Shelby M. Cullom "Republican "Illinois 1901–1911
"Augustus O. Bacon "Democratic "Georgia 1913–1914
"William J. Stone "Democratic "Missouri 1914–1918
"Gilbert M. Hitchcock "Democratic "Nebraska 1918–1919
"Henry Cabot Lodge "Republican "Massachusetts 1919–1924
"William E. Borah "Republican "Idaho 1924–1933
"Key Pittman "Democratic "Nevada 1933–1940
"Walter F. George "Democratic "Georgia 1940–1941
"Tom Connally "Democratic "Texas 1941–1947
"Arthur H. Vandenberg "Republican "Michigan 1947–1949
"Tom Connally "Democratic "Texas 1949–1953
"Alexander Wiley "Republican "Wisconsin 1953–1955
"Walter F. George "Democratic "Georgia 1955–1957
"Theodore F. Green "Democratic "Rhode Island 1957–1959
"J. William Fulbright "Democratic "Arkansas 1959–1975
"John J. Sparkman "Democratic "Alabama 1975–1979
"Frank Church "Democratic "Idaho 1979–1981
"Charles H. Percy "Republican "Illinois 1981–1985
"Richard Lugar "Republican "Indiana 1985–1987
"Claiborne Pell "Democratic "Rhode Island 1987–1995
"Jesse Helms "Republican "North Carolina 1995–2001
"Joe Biden "Democratic "Delaware 2001
"Jesse Helms "Republican "North Carolina 2001
"Joe Biden "Democratic "Delaware 2001–2003
"Richard Lugar "Republican "Indiana 2003–2007
"Joe Biden "Democratic "Delaware 2007–2009
"John Kerry "Democratic "Massachusetts 2009–2013
"Bob Menendez "Democratic "New Jersey 2013–2015
"Bob Corker "Republican "Tennessee 2015–present

See also[edit]


  1. ^ History of the Committee
  2. ^ Joseph A. Fry, "John Tyler Morgan's Southern Expansionism," Diplomatic History (1985) 9#4 pp: 329-346.
  3. ^ Roland Young, Congressional Politics in the Second World War (1958), pp 168–96
  4. ^ Hachey, Thomas E. (Winter 1973–1974). "American Profiles on Capitol Hill: A Confidential Study for the British Foreign Office in 1943" (PDF). Wisconsin Magazine of History. 57 (2): 141–153. "JSTOR 4634869. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 21, 2013. 
  5. ^ James A. Gazell, "Arthur H. Vandenberg, Internationalism, and the United Nations." Political Science Quarterly (1973) pp: 375-394. in JSTOR
  6. ^ Katherine Klinefelter, "The China Hearings: America's Shifting Paradigm on China," Congress & the Presidency (2011) 38#1 pp: 60-76.
  7. ^ Jacob K. Javits, "Congress And Foreign Relations: The Taiwan Relations Act," Foreign Affairs (1981) 60#1 pp 54-62
  8. ^ Robert David Johnson (2005). Congress and the Cold War. Cambridge UO. pp. 253–54. 
  9. ^ William A. Link, Righteous Warrior: Jesse Helms and the Rise of Modern Conservatism (2008)
  10. ^ Sen. Menendez voluntarily stepped down as Ranking Member on 1 April 2015 after being indicted by the Justice Department. Menendez Gives Up Foreign Relations Post

Further reading[edit]

Primary sources[edit]

External links[edit]

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