AGAINST BACKDOOR ISOLATIONISM
(Senate - March 28, 1996)

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[Pages S3144-S3146]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                     AGAINST BACKDOOR ISOLATIONISM

  Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, I would now like to register my strong 
opposition to the question we are about to vote on, the conference 
report on H.R. 1561, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act.
  In spite of some modifications, this report still, in my view, 
suffers from the fatal flaws that afflicted the Senate bill which we 
voted upon in December and I voted against.
  This conference report would abolish three agencies that continue to 
serve the interests of the American people: The Arms Control and 
Disarmament Agency, the U.S. Information Agency, and the U.S. Agency 
for International Development.
  While unwisely folding these agencies into the Department of State, 
it would severely cut funding for diplomatic activities, thereby 
further undermining our ability to carry out a coherent foreign policy.
  The report also includes a sadly inadequate sum for foreign 
assistance, contains language that would be extremely damaging to POW/
MIA identification in Vietnam, unwisely tampers with the 1982 joint 
communique with China, and generally attempts to give the impression 
that it is an internationalist piece of legislation.
  Mr. President, the intent and impact of this legislation is not 
internationalist at all. No, the report is, in fact, yet another 
attempt at backdoor isolationism, in my view.
  The legislation has its genesis in a deeply flawed ideological belief 
that no matter what the objective facts are, less Government tomorrow 
is better than whatever level of Government we have today. Following 
this simplistic logic, we have three independent agencies today so let 
us have two, or one, or even none tomorrow.
  Never mind that all three agencies--ACDA, USIA, and AID--have all 
made significant strides in restructuring their activities and saving 
large sums of money and large sums of taxpayer dollars on their own 
accord.
  Never mind that the missions of all three of these agencies are even 
more important today than they were during the cold war.
  Less is more, so hack away. If this act were anything more than a 
numbers game, it would not blithely give the President a waiver 
authority to save up to any two agencies of his choice. It is like 
picking draft choices. I will trade you one and you pick any two you 
want.
  It has nothing to do with anything other than the notion that less is 
better. For, if it were otherwise, we would say, ``Mr. President, you 
must deal specifically with this agency or that agency.'' This, 
however, is like giving up future draft choices.
  The legislation appears at first glance to have been crafted in 
blissful ignorance, both of what has been going on in our foreign 
policy apparatus for years and what it takes to conduct American 
foreign policy around the globe today.
  How else could one explain ignoring ACDA's increasingly critical 
watchdog role in nuclear nonproliferation. It does not matter that the 
cold war is over. We now face the danger of nuclear weapons in the 
hands of several new countries, including rogue States like Iran and 
Libya.
  Moreover, terrorist groups threaten to get ahold of nuclear material 
for the purpose of blackmailing entire cities and potentially nations. 
Now, more than ever, we need the proven expertise and independent 
judgment of ACDA.
  Can we really believe that the drafters of this legislation are 
unaware of USIA's technologically sophisticated

[[Page S3145]]

efforts to bring America's message to the world? Do they also not know 
that American public affairs officers are often our embassies' most 
proactive diplomats? Can they not see that merging them into a large 
bureaucracy would inevitably smother their creativity?
  Mr. President, is it credible to believe that the innovative public-
private enterprise funds that USAID has pioneered in Central and 
Eastern Europe have escaped the notice of the sponsors of this 
legislation? Do they really not comprehend that development aid is a 
cost-effective way to head off crises around the world?
  No, I think the answer to all these questions is clear: Less is more, 
so let us slash, let us slash.
  It is bad enough that absorbing these agencies would rob them of 
their independence that has served this Nation so well for decades. 
But, Mr. President, this legislation adds insult to injury by denying 
the State Department the necessary funding to adequately carry out the 
new functions it will now inherit, along with its current duties as the 
principal vehicle for the carrying out of U.S. foreign policy.
  The sponsors of this legislation would have us believe that a 
profligate and bloated bureaucracy needs to be cut down to size. In my 
view, nothing can be further from the truth.
  The international affairs budget is now 45 percent lower than it was 
in 1984.
  Altogether, it represents only 1.3 percent of Federal spending.
  Over the past 3 years alone, the State Department's budget has been 
cut in real terms by 15 percent, at the same time the Department's 
responsibilities have been increased with the birth of many new 
countries out of the wreckage of the Soviet Union.
  We see what is happening in Bosnia. We know what is happening in all 
the former Soviet republics, and it makes sense for us not to have a 
presence there? It makes sense for us not to be involved? It makes 
sense for us to close embassies? It makes sense for us not to open 
consulates?
  I cannot believe that is what is motivating this legislation. It is 
simply this notion that we should cut and slash.
  Forced to respond to these fiscal stringencies, the State Department 
has taken some very painful measures:
  It has cut its total work force by 1,700 persons.
  It has downsized the Senior Foreign Service by almost one-fifth, and, 
in my opinion, this measure is a thoughtless waste of a national 
resource.
  It had to cancel, for example, the 1995 and 1996 Foreign Service 
examinations--in effect, a tragic waste of a future national resource, 
namely, the best and the brightest college and university graduates who 
will be unable to join our diplomatic corps and serve this Nation.
  It has cut its administrative expenses by nearly $100 million. Anyone 
visiting an American embassy abroad has seen our highly trained 
professionals doubling- and even tripling-up in cramped office space, 
even as they routinely work 12 hours a day or more.
  Yet, Mr. President, some politicians see fit to use the Foreign 
Service and other agencies as whipping boys in an attempt to fuel this 
mindless anti-Government feeling that afflicts some of our fellow 
citizens.
  I regret to say that last summer, one of our colleagues and a good 
friend of mine castigated American diplomats for allegedly working in 
``marble palaces'' and ``renting long coats and high hats'' only a few 
weeks after Bob Frasure, Joe Kruzel, and Nelson Drew were killed on the 
Mt. Igman Road above Sarajevo--working not in a marble palace, but in 
an armored personnel carrier, and wearing fatigues, not long coats and 
high hats.
  Finally, the State Department has been forced to close a string of 
diplomatic posts, thereby severely hampering our ability to carry out 
political, economic and cultural diplomacy in an increasingly 
competitive world.
  I come from a State where there are a number of multinational 
corporations. They have historically--not solely, but in part--had 
access and information provided to them through economic and commercial 
officers at our consulates and our embassies. Why are we closing them? 
In the name of economy, in the name of the long-term future of American 
economic growth? What is the reason?
  From all this, any objective observer, in my view, can see that the 
foreign policy apparatus of the United States has already been pared 
down to the bone.
  What does this legislation do? After mandating that the State 
Department assume the functions of ACDA, USIA and AID, it calls for 
further budget cuts of $1.7 billion over the next 4 years.
  I think this is a shell game which ends with nothing left under any 
one of the shells.
  In effect, this legislation will also cripple our ability to head off 
crises around the world through diplomacy that this President and 
future Presidents of the United States will be faced with the stark 
choice of either doing nothing or sending in the military.
  Let me make a truly radical suggestion, Mr. President. This year we 
gave the Pentagon $7 billion more than it asked for. I have 
consistently supported keeping the U.S. military the strongest military 
in the world, and I continue to do so.
  But why not give the Pentagon only $5 billion more than it asked for 
and transfer the remaining $2 billion to the international affairs 
budget, keep the three agencies functioning, and enable this country to 
get back into the big leagues of international diplomacy?
  Unfortunately, with our backdoor isolationists in control of this 
Congress, this perfectly sensible suggestion, I believe, is totally 
impossible.
  No, Mr. President, this conference report is a triumph of 
ideologically driven romanticism. It speaks to an earlier, simpler age.
  Unfortunately, though, we are approaching the turn of the 21st 
century. The world is ever more complex, not simple, and closing our 
eyes will not make the complexity go away.
  This bogus administrative reform, combined with purposefully punitive 
budget cuts, is no more than backdoor isolationism, in my view.
  This conference report ought to be titled ``The Smoot-Hawley Foreign 
Policy Act of 1996.''
  It is a blueprint for the affairs of an inward looking, minor nation, 
not the world's only remaining superpower.
  As you might guess, I will cast my vote against this backdoor 
isolationism, and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to do 
the same.
  This is not a time to turn inward. This is a time to look outward. 
This is a time to claim our mantle, to engage in diplomacy, and to help 
shape a world that will make it safer and economically more viable for 
Americans to live in.
  I thank my colleagues for their indulgence and yield the floor.
  Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. HELMS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that further 
proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. HELMS. Mr. President, the majority leader has suggested that in 
order to enable Senators to get home a few minutes earlier, that we 
start the rollcall vote immediately, but to run it on for there to be 
plenty of time for Senators to arrive. So I make that unanimous consent 
request.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. HELMS. Mr. President, I ask for the yeas and nays. I thought they 
had already been ordered.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second? There is a 
sufficient second.
  The yeas and nays were ordered.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The question occurs on agreeing to the 
conference report to accompany H.R. 1561. The yeas and nays have been 
ordered. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk called the roll.
  Mr. LOTT. I announce that the Senator from Florida [Mr. Mack] is 
necessarily absent.
  Mr. FORD. I announce that the Senator from West Virginia [Mr. 
Rockefeller], the Senator from Arkansas [Mr. Pryor], and the Senator 
from Nebraska [Mr. Exon] are necessarily absent.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Are there any other Senators in the Chamber 
desiring to vote?

[[Page S3146]]

  The result was announced--yeas 52, nays 44, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 59 Leg.]

                                YEAS--52

     Abraham
     Ashcroft
     Bennett
     Bond
     Brown
     Burns
     Campbell
     Chafee
     Coats
     Cochran
     Cohen
     Coverdell
     Craig
     D'Amato
     DeWine
     Dole
     Domenici
     Faircloth
     Frist
     Gorton
     Gramm
     Grams
     Grassley
     Gregg
     Hatch
     Hatfield
     Helms
     Hutchison
     Inhofe
     Jeffords
     Kassebaum
     Kempthorne
     Kyl
     Lott
     Lugar
     McCain
     McConnell
     Murkowski
     Nickles
     Pressler
     Roth
     Santorum
     Shelby
     Simpson
     Smith
     Snowe
     Specter
     Stevens
     Thomas
     Thompson
     Thurmond
     Warner

                                NAYS--44

     Akaka
     Baucus
     Biden
     Bingaman
     Boxer
     Bradley
     Breaux
     Bryan
     Bumpers
     Byrd
     Conrad
     Daschle
     Dodd
     Dorgan
     Feingold
     Feinstein
     Ford
     Glenn
     Graham
     Harkin
     Heflin
     Hollings
     Inouye
     Johnston
     Kennedy
     Kerrey
     Kerry
     Kohl
     Lautenberg
     Leahy
     Levin
     Lieberman
     Mikulski
     Moseley-Braun
     Moynihan
     Murray
     Nunn
     Pell
     Reid
     Robb
     Sarbanes
     Simon
     Wellstone
     Wyden

                             NOT VOTING--4

     Exon
     Mack
     Pryor
     Rockefeller
  The conference report was agreed to.
  Mr. DOLE. Mr. President, I move to reconsider the vote by which the 
conference report was agreed to, and I move to lay that motion on the 
table.
  The motion to lay on the table was agreed to.
  Mr. DORGAN. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

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