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Entries in Congress (7)

Tuesday
May152012

Bipartisan Group of Senators Push for Chen Guangcheng's Safety

State Department photo/ Public Domain(WASHINGTON) -- In a letter written directly to Chinese President Hu Jintao, a bipartisan group of five senators urges the Chinese government to take steps to protect the safety and well-being of Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, his family and associates. Guangcheng captured international headlines earlier this month after escaping house arrest and seeking refuge at the U.S. embassy in Beijing.
 
“We strongly urge your government to take all necessary measures to cease the harassment of Mr. Chen, his relatives and associates,” the letter says, “and to guarantee their safety and security while respecting their right to travel freely within and outside China.”
 
The letter was penned by Senators Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., Jim DeMint, R-S.C., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Bob Menendez, D-N.J.

[View the full text of the signed letter, sent to President Hu Jintao Tuesday, here.]

But, Sen. Marco Rubio, a potential contender to be Romney’s vice president candidate, took the lead, his office says -- a move potentially intended to beef up the junior senator’s foreign policy chops and leadership in the Senate.
 
Rubio argued earlier this month on Fox News Sunday that the incident shows the administration’s “unwillingness to forcefully assert America’s values.”
 
“This crisis is a reminder of what we’re dealing with in China, and we hope that there are reformers in that government that are pushing for a more open system, but what we know for a fact we’re dealing with now are people who are paranoid and are control freaks in a totalitarian system,” he said earlier this month.
 
Earlier Tuesday, Guangcheng called into a congressional hearing Tuesday to tell the American people, “I am not a hero.”

It’s the second time that Chen, who was arrested in 2005 for condemning China’s one child per couple law, has called into a hearing in the past two weeks after he phoned into a Congressional-Executive Commission on China hearing May 3.

“I want to extend my gratitude and thankfulness to all those who care and love my family and myself, and our situation, especially the American people who show their care about the quality of justice as a universal value and I’m very grateful to all of you,” Chen, 41, said on the call Tuesday. “I am not a hero. I’m just doing what my conscience asks me to do. I cannot be silent when facing these evils against women and children.”

After hiding out in the U.S. embassy for a few days, Chen eventually sought medical treatment at Chaoyang Hospital in Beijing after being told that Chinese officials would have killed his wife if he had remained at the embassy.

Chen is still awaiting an exit permit to study in the United States after accepting an invitation from New York University. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that visas for Chen and his family have already been approved and the hang-up is apparently in the hands of the Chinese.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct132011

South Korean President Addresses Joint Meeting of US Congress

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In a packed House chamber, Lee Myung-bak, the president of South Korea, addressed a joint meeting of Congress Thursday afternoon, telling lawmakers of his humble beginnings in a war-torn Korean peninsula as he spelled out the importance of the bilateral relationship his country shares with the United States.

“Your friendship -- and our alliance -- has been indispensable throughout this remarkable journey of hope, and this is why all of you should be proud of what Korea and the Korean people have achieved,” Lee Myung-bak said. “Our alliance will grow and evolve, and it will prevail.”

Just a day after Congress voted to approve a free trade agreement with South Korea, Lee Myung-bak said that, “the United States and Korea have one of the closest, most important economic relationships in the world.”

“We invest in you and you invest in us because we are interdependent. When we trade together, we grow together. When we build together, we rise together. And when we work together, we win together,” he said. “A new chapter in our relationship has opened. Our relationship has become stronger.”

The Korean president received multiple standing ovations from Congress, the strongest of all when he paid tribute to four members of Congress – Reps. John Conyers, D-Mich., Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., Sam Johnson, R-Texas, and Howard Coble, R-N.C. -- veterans of the Korean War.

“The strength of a country is not measured in dollars alone. Our mutual defense keeps us strong, and it keeps us safe,” he said. “Ours is an alliance that is forged in blood.”

As for the future of Korea, Lee Myung-bak said he recognized the reality that Korea has been split in two, but he said he will “never accept it as a permanent condition” and he said the North and South “must achieve peaceful unification.”

“The two Koreas share the same language, history and customs. We are one people,” he said. “My hope is that these people and all 70 million Koreans will enjoy real happiness, real peace.”

“A unified Korea will be a friend to all and a threat to none … We therefore must achieve the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and North Korea must give up their nuclear ambitions,” he added, inspiring another standing ovation. “Korea and the United States stand united.”

House Speaker John Boehner and Vice President Joe Biden sat behind Myung-bak as the Korean president delivered his remarks in Korean, while lawmakers and guests listened to a translation through a headset.

Myung-bak is the third head of state to address a joint meeting of Congress this year, joining Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on March 9 and May 24, respectively.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct072011

Boehner Invites South Korean President to Address Congress

Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images (WASHINGTON) -- U.S. House Speaker John Boehner on Friday invited South Korea's president, Lee Myung-bak, to address a joint meeting of Congress on Oct. 13, which would mark the first time Lee has visited the Capitol since June 16, 2009.

Here is the announcement from the Speaker’s office:


“The American and South Korean peoples share deep ties rooted in history and common values.  The Republic of Korea has been a strong ally and partner in promoting democracy, advancing economic freedom, and combating nuclear proliferation.  It would be an honor to have President Lee, a steadfast friend of the American people, address the United States Congress.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun282011

War Powers Showdown Heats Up over Libya

Senator Richard Luger (R-Ind). United States Senate(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. military operations in Libya are legal, the Obama administration insisted Tuesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Several senators disagreed.

"This administration is acting lawfully, consistent with both the letter and spirit of the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution. Contrary to what some have claimed, we are not asserting sweeping constitutional power to bypass Congress," Harold Koh, the State Department's legal adviser, told the committee.

Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., the ranking member on the committee, challenged that conclusion.

"In this case, President Obama made a deliberate decision not to seek a congressional authorization of his action either before it commenced or during the last three months. This was a fundamental failure of leadership that placed expedience above constitutional responsibility," he said.

The War Powers Resolution would require the president to seek congressional authorization for military operations lasting more than 60 days.

Koh was one of the administration lawyers who argued that U.S. participation in the three-month-old NATO-led mission is limited enough that it does not constitute hostilities as described in the War Powers Resolution, and therefore would not require congressional authorization. That position was ultimately adopted by President Obama after a debate with lawyers in the Pentagon who disagreed.

Koh argued Tuesday that forcing the U.S. to end its participation in Libya would send a bad message to NATO allies and could encourage Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to step up attacks on civilians.

The House of Representatives already sent a message to Obama last Friday when it voted down a measure that would authorize U.S. operations in Libya. A separate vote to cut off funding also failed.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun162011

N.C. Congressman: Libya Bombing an ‘Abuse of Power’

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- With bipartisan anger flashing at President Obama over Libya and his foreign policy, a bipartisan group of House members is taking the Obama administration to court, challenging the president's authority to engage in a bombing campaign in Libya without congressional authorization.

Rep. Walter Jones Jr., one of the co-signers of the lawsuit, told ABC News on Thursday that the president had no good reason to attack Moammar Gadhafi.

"Libya had done nothing to America. I realize they've got an evil leader, Gadhafi, but still, you don't go around the world attacking countries because they have an evil leader," said Jones, (R-N.C.).

"Why in the world didn't president Obama come to the Congress and say, 'Look, I got a concern, I'm concerned about the national security, and I might need to have the authorization to go in and take Gadhafi out.' But he didn't do that," Jones continued. "The president is not a king. He was elected by the people, just like the House and Senate -- we were elected by the people."

"I think he is absolutely off-base," Jones said. "I think that is an abuse of power, and that's why we're going to the courts."

Jones voted for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, though he turned against them sooner than virtually all of his GOP allies, and emerged as a prominent anti-war voice while President George W. Bush was still in office.

He told ABC News that he detects a growing sentiment inside his party about the need for an exit strategy from the wars Obama inherited.

"It is definitely changing," he said. "It is about the money situation. And…we're wearing out our military. They have done everything they've been asked to do in Afghanistan, but history shows you will never change Afghanistan. For those two reasons, more and more Republicans are seriously looking at our position."

Jones said his position is also gaining traction among the GOP presidential contenders: "Ron Paul has always been outspoken about the war, but Michele Bachmann and even Mr. [Mitt] Romney -- they're more and more beginning to see if you don't have a definition of victory, then you're not going to ever know what victory is."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun152011

Libya Operation Has Cost More than $716 Million, White House Says

The White House(WASHINGTON) -- In a report revealing that the total cost of U.S. intervention in Libya as of June 3 has been $716 million and will reach $1.1 billion by the end of September, the Obama administration Wednesday told congressional leaders that the role of the U.S. military is so limited that congressional authorization is not needed.

“The President is of the view that the current U.S. military operations in Libya are consistent with the War Powers Resolution and do not under that law require further congressional authorization, because U.S. military operations are distinct from the kind of ‘hostilities’ contemplated by the Resolution’s 60 day termination provision,” wrote two officials with the Pentagon’s legislative affairs office. “U.S. forces are playing a constrained and supporting role in a multinational coalition, whose operations are both legitimated by and limited to the terms of a United Nations Security Council Resolution that authorizes the use of force solely to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under attack or threat of attack and to enforce a no-fly zone and an arms embargo.”

The argument is similar to one the president made in a letter to congressional leaders last month.

Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said that “the creative arguments made by the White House raise a number of questions that must be further explored. Regardless, the Commander-in-Chief has a responsibility to articulate how U.S. military action is vital to our national security and consistent with American policy goals. With Libya, the President has fallen short on this obligation. We will review the information that was provided today, but hope and expect that this will serve as the beginning, not the end, of the President’s explanation for continued American operations in Libya.”

On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of ten lawmakers filed a lawsuit against President Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

“We believe that the law was violated,” said Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio. “We have asked the courts to move to protect the American people from the results of these illegal policies.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun152011

White House Responds to Boehner's Warning on Libya

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The White House responded Tuesday to House Speaker John Boehner's warning that President Obama will soon be in violation of the War Powers Resolution -- three months after the president informed Congress of the start of the mission in Libya -- because the White House has failed to answer "fundamental questions regarding the Libya mission."

"We are in the final stages of preparing extensive information for the House and Senate that will address a whole host of issues about our ongoing efforts in Libya, including those raised in the House resolution as well as our legal analysis with regard to the War Powers Resolution," National Security Council Spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement.

"Since March 1, administration witnesses have testified at over 10 hearings that included a substantial discussion of Libya and participated in over 30 member or staff briefings, and we will continue to consult with our Congressional colleagues," Vietor added.

Over the past 90 days, the maximum days allowed under the War Powers Resolution without Congressional approval, Boehner complains that the president has not asked for or received approval from Congress for the action in Libya.

Boehner wrote Tuesday that while the administration has provided tactical operational briefings to the House of Representatives, "the White House has systematically avoided requesting a formal authorization for its action."

"It would appear that in five days, the administration will be in violation of the War Powers Resolution unless it asks for and receives authorization from Congress or withdraws all U.S. troops and resources from the mission," Boehner, R-Ohio, noted.

Boehner is also calling on the president to explain the legal grounds on which he plans to continue to carry out the mission in Libya beyond Sunday.

He asks for the administration to respond by this Friday, June 17.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio