SOUTHERN AFRICA AND THE REPUBLICAN SENATE: AN EARLY ASSESSMENT

by Jim Cason, American Committee on Africa
New York, New York, United States
November 15, 1994
3 pages
Type: Report
Coverage in Africa: Angola, Mozambique, Southern Africa
Coverage outside Africa: United States
Language: English
The report describes what to expect on southern Africa policy when the Republican Party takes over the U.S. Congress (with a 53 to 47 majority in the Senate and 230 to 204 majority in the House of Representatives in January). A major change will be conservative North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms becoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Just one day after the November elections, Helms threatened that the Congress will impose sanctions against the MPLA government if if does not end its offensive against Unita. Helms’ stance is in stark contrast to the behind-the-scenes diplomatic approach advocated by current Democratic chairman of the Senate Africa Subcommittee, Paul Simon. Also, Senator Helms has said that his first priority will be cutting overall foreign aid, which could hurt funding for Mozambique. Probably Senator James Jeffords from Vermont or Kansas Senator Nancy Kassebaum will become chair of the Africa Subcommittee, but Helms will wield tremendous power as chair of the full committee; his ideological approach to Africa policy is likely to dominate the committees agenda. Helms was a strong advocate of Renamo before the publication of the State Department's Gersony report; he also blocked Melissa Wells' confirmation as Ambassador to Mozambique for 11 months after President Reagan nominated her in 1986. Congressional  Republicans will be able to block U.S. funding for a U.N. peacekeeping mission if they are unhappy with administration policy. House Republican leaders plan to eliminate the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee focused on Africa as part of a broader plan to reduce the size of Congress. Abolishing the only subcommittee with an exclusive focus on Africa will further reduce the level of debate about Africa beyond crisis issues and eliminate the most powerful lobby for the continent in the House. An official of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), which has successfully fought back Democratic Party efforts to eliminate the House Africa Subcommittee in the last two years, suggested that it may be more difficult to preserve the subcommittee under the Republicans. The report mentions the Development Fund for Africa, Jonas Savimbi, and Robert Dole.
Used by permission of Africa Action (successor to the American Committee on Africa).
Collection: George M. Houser (Africa collection), Michigan State University Libraries Special Collections