Clinton: House Foreign Relations bill deserves President Obama's veto

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday told House Republicans that the Foreign Relations authorization bill approved in committee last week would be "debilitating" to her efforts to conduct foreign policy, and that she would push for a veto.

"The net effect of these and other restrictions in the bill would be debilitating to my efforts to carry out a considered foreign policy and diplomacy, and to use foreign assistance strategically to that end," she wrote in a letter to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.).

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"The Department of State opposes this bill," she added. "Should this bill be presented to the President, I will recommend personally that he veto the bill."

Clinton was referring to H.R. 2583, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, which Ros-Lehtinen's committee approved last week. Clinton cited several restrictions on the operations of the State Department, reduced monetary contributions to international organizations and controversial abortion language as reasons for her opposition.

On the latter issue, she said the bill reinstates the so-called Mexico City Policy that bans the use of U.S. funds for groups that promote or perform abortions.

Clinton also said the bill would ban economic assistance to governments that don't meet anti-corruption criteria, which she said "has the potential to affect a staggering number of needy aid recipients."

Also cited as a problem language that conditions funding to Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen and the Palestinian Authority on certifications that no terrorist groups are involved in those governments. Clinton said this would require the administration to meet "burdensome and infeasible certifications."

Ros-Lehtinen has said previously that these changes are needed in large part to help curb federal spending in light of the fiscal crisis.

"I hear the demands of the American people to stop the spending spree, and that is why I am unwilling to agree to the huge overall spending increase that the President wanted in this bill," Ros-Lehtinen said last week. "My legislation protects and advances our national security interests and priorities while rejecting the notion that it takes more government and more spending to do so."

The bill authorizes foreign relations activities at nearly $5 billion less than 2010 levels.