House Foreign Affairs Chair Re-Elected

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By Rossella Brevetti

Nov. 9 — Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) cruised to victory in the Nov. 8 election and is expected to maintain the chairman's gavel of the House Foreign Affairs Committee when the new Congress is sworn in next year.

Royce has been an outspoken critic of President Barack Obama's policy of engagement with Cuba. In a recent statement, Royce said existing U.S. law mandates that the Cuba embargo remain until there’s a government in Cuba that releases political prisoners and allows for free and fair elections. “The White House has an obligation to uphold and defend the law—whether it likes it or not,” Royce has said. The chairman has also been a proponent of stronger economic sanctions, criticizing what he characterized as the Obama administration's “tepid implementation” of existing sanctions programs.

Another strong critic of the Obama administration's Cuba policy, Cuban-American Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) won re-election. Ros-Lehtinen currently chairs the panel's Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee. She is the most senior U.S. representative from Florida and represents Florida's 27th congressional district.

Ranking member Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) was also handily re-elected and is expected to keep his leadership post pending committee assignments. Engel has been a chief sponsor of legislation (H.R. 4939) that would strengthen U.S. engagement with Caribbean countries.

Rep. Matt Salmon of Arizona, current chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, is retiring. Other Republican members of the panel who are retiring are Curt Clawson of Florida and Reid Ribble of Wisconsin, according to a committee aide.

Democratic member Alan Grayson of Florida did not run for re-election. Committee assignments will not be known for weeks, a Democratic aide told Bloomberg BNA in an e-mail.

Current Republican members of the committee include: Christopher Smith (N.J.), Dana Rohrabacher (Calif.), Steve Chabot (Ohio), Joe Wilson (S.C.), Michael McCaul (Texas), Ted Poe (Texas), Tom Marino (Pa.), Jeff Duncan (S.C.), Mo Brooks (Ala.), Paul Cook (Calif.), Randy Weber (Texas), Scott Perry (Pa.), Ron DeSantis (Fla.), Mark Meadows (N.C.), Ted Yoho (Fla.), Scott DesJarlais (Tenn.), David Trott (Mich.), Lee Zeldin (N.Y.) and Daniel Donovan (N.Y.). They all won re-election. At press time, Rep. Issa appeared to be winning a tough challenge from Marine colonel Doug Applegate.

Democratic members of the panel include: Brad Sherman (Calif.), Gregory Meeks (N.Y.), Albio Sires (N.J.), Gerald Connolly (Va.), Theodore Deutch (Fla.), Brian Higgins (N.Y.), Karen Bass (Calif.), William Keating (Mass.), David Cicilline (R.I.), Alan Lowenthal (Calif.), Grace Meng (N.Y.), Lois Frankel (Fla.), Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii), Joaquin Castro (Texas), Robin Kelly (Ill.) and Brendan Boyle (Pa.). All the members won re-election. However, at press time Ami Bera (Calif.) was leading in a tight race.

The Foreign Affairs Committee has jurisdiction over legislation impacting the diplomatic community, which includes the Department of State, the Agency for International Development and the enforcement of the Arms Export Control Act.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rossella Brevetti in Washington at rbrevetti@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jerome Ashton at jashton@bna.com

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