Spotlight: Congressional heavyweights' exits likely to impact U.S. foreign policy: experts

Source: Xinhua| 2018-01-10 16:58:29|Editor: Jiaxin
Video PlayerClose

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- The upcoming departure of two U.S. lawmakers in charge of foreign affairs is expected to impact foreign policy in and beyond the Congress amid increasing populism, experts said.

Republican Representative Ed Royce, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, announced Monday that he will not run for a 14th term. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had announced his retirement plan last year.

In a statement, Royce vowed to spend his last year of chairmanship focusing "fully on the urgent threats facing our nation," referring to Pyongyang, Tehran and Moscow, and "growing terrorist threats in Africa and Central Asia."

"With this in mind ... I have decided not to seek reelection in November," he said.

In September last year, Senator Corker also announced he would leave the official post before the end of this year.

Their retirements will contribute to the overhaul of the U.S. Congressional leadership on foreign policy, impacting future legislation and policy, experts said.


If he had stayed on, Royce was expected to face fierce challenges in the November mid-term elections.

Analysts point out that California's 39th Congressional District, which Royce has represented for some 25 years, has become a coveted battleground for both Republicans and Democrats.

Although Royce won the election in 2016, his district gave Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton a nearly 10-point advantage over Donald Trump, now the U.S. president. This year, Royce would have had a slimmer chance to win, considering the rising popularity of Democratic contenders in the district.

Corker's dropout was said to be more out of frustration than due to electoral pressure. His heated exchanges with Trump last year caused surprise both in and outside the party.

Corker called Trump a liar and incompetent to serve the presidency. In media interviews, he alleged Trump was turning the White House into an "adult day-care center" and would drag the United States into World War III.

In response, Trump blamed Corker for helping his predecessor Barack Obama sign the Iran nuclear deal. Trump also called Corker a "lightweight" who could not get re-elected without his help.

Commenting on Corker's exit, Douglas Paal, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told Xinhua that there were reports of the "frustration moderate senators like him were feeling about continuing to work in the Senate."

Darrell West, a senior fellow at the Washington-based think tank Brookings Institute, said many congressional Republicans are leaving because "they see a Democratic tidal wave engulfing them in the 2018 elections."


Experts said the departure of Corker and Royce could lead to a more conservative Congressional attitude on foreign policy amidst escalating populism in the United States.

"It is bad, in my opinion, to have a continuous leakage of centrist, experienced lawmakers," Paal said.

West said both Congress leaders "tend to be globalists who want strong American engagement with the world. They value solid relations with our trading partners and do not want there to be major barriers that limit commerce."

Pointing out that new committee chairs usually have their own perspectives that can differ considerably from past chairs', West outlined the danger involved: "There is the risk that legislators who want a tougher stance vis-a-vis the world will come to the forefront and alter congressional policy."

(Matthew Rusling from Washington also contributed to the story.)