No single member of Congress of either party, in either chamber, is a more persistent advocate of the human rights of the North Korean people than Representative Ed Royce. Royce represents California’s 40 District in Orange County, which contains a large Korean-American constituency. Just as the situation in Cuba seemed to inspire outgoing Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen the most, the situation in North Korea has always seemed to inspire Royce the most.
Yesterday, I learned that Royce has been selected to be Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee when the new Congress is sworn in. After his selection, Royce wrote this on his blog — yes, he even blogs:
What’s next now that I have been entrusted with Committee gavel? Iran’s march toward nuclear weapons is a grave threat that demands constant attention and great pressure on Tehran. Daily crisis come and go – but this menace has been building for years. I have been focused on North Korea’s weapons proliferation for a long time, and U.S. international broadcasting efforts –including “Freedom Radios”– need to get better, fast.
After years of sacrifice, Americans are weary of engagement. But while we can’t step away from the many challenges abroad, I’ll be working to see that U.S. policy is smart and focused, and that we make the best use of our limited resources. I want to reach out to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to pass legislation in the House with little Senate support.
After several years of blogging, I think my readers understand the issues I feel strongly about and my general foreign policy approach. The Speaker of the House, others in Republican leadership, and many of my other colleagues have given me a great vote of confidence. As chairman, I’ll be better positioned to advance the causes many of you care deeply about.
Ros-Lehtinen still managed to win the coveted Human Scum Award two years ago, so I’m guessing the editorial writers at KCNA are really not going to like Royce. Royce has long been well-served by an exceptionally energetic, capable, and elegant staffer named Yong Kim. As Chairman, he will also inherent a cadre of professional committee staff, including Dennis Halpin, a former U.S. Consul in Pusan, a Korean speaker, and a stalwart advocate for the North Korean people.
As Royce points out, there isn’t much the House can do without the Senate, and if he doesn’t eventually become Secretary of State, the awful John Kerry will probably continue as Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations. To give a few examples of Kerry’s actions on North Korea, he was a strong supporter of Chris Hill’s nomination for a suspiciously short term as U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, long after failures and lies of Agreed Framework II were obvious to anyone who was paying attention. In 2009, Kerry also blocked legislation to put North Korea back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. Since then, North Korea has attacked South Korea twice, tested one nuke and one ICBM, made multiple threats to attack foreign civilian targets in its state media, and launched a poison needle assassination campaign against dissidents and human rights activists (more here).
Heartfelt congratulations to Chairman-Elect Royce, along with my best wishes as he takes on the considerable challenges before him.