Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Kerry Comes Full Circle on Foreign Relations Committee

On April 22, 1971, young Lieutenant Junior Grade John F. Kerry appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations committee to give testimony in hearings about ending the Vietnam war. The opportunity put Kerry center stage in the anti-war movement and, sadly, would later become the linchpin in Republican attacks on his patriotism when he became the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004.

Of course the rest is history and the Senate part of Kerry's story began when he was elected to that body in 1984 and he has been a member of the Foreign Relations committee ever since.

And things really came full circle on Monday when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced that Kerry would be the new chairman of that powerful committee for the 111th Congress, which convenes in January.

“I am honored to serve as Chairman of a committee which I know from my own experience as a young man can impact the course of our security and help advance our values and interests in the world," said Kerry. "I look forward to working with all members of the committee to help strengthen America’s hand in Afghanistan and Pakistan, work towards global climate change solutions, and end the war in Iraq responsibly."

"We have a big agenda ahead of us, just as our country faces big challenges across the globe.”

During his tenure on the committee, Senator Kerry has chaired the Asia and Middle East subcommittees and authored and passed major legislation on international drug trafficking, global AIDS, international money laundering, and climate change – and negotiated the UN’s genocide tribunal to prosecute war crimes in Cambodia’s Killing Fields.

“John will do an excellent job as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the nation’s fortunate to have him in this high position," said Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA). "I know he’ll make significant contributions to our foreign policy in dealing with the many challenges we face in our relationships with other countries, and he’ll work well with President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton to restore America’s respect in the world.”

Kerry assumes his chairmanship with Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) moving on to the White House and the only Democratic colleague with more seniority, Chris Dodd (D-CT), choosing to remain chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs committee.