After months of speculation and waiting, U.S. Sen. Jim Risch has been elected chairman of U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
The Idaho Republican replaces Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, whose retirement put Risch next in line for the chairmanship.
“I am glad to have the confidence of my colleagues who have elected me chairman of this historic committee,” said Risch in a news release. “I have a great deal of respect for the legislative powers that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is granted. My decade of service on this committee and the Intelligence Committee, in addition to four decades of legislative and executive experience, has contributed to my view of American foreign policy and our nation’s standing in the world.”
Risch, 75, is the third Idahoan to serve as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, following William Borah’s tenure from 1925 to 1933 and Frank Church’s two year term from 1979 to 1980.
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The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, established in 1816, has jurisdiction over legislation concerning the conduct of U.S. foreign policy, including foreign assistance, treaties and declarations of war. The committee also is responsible for oversight of the U.S. State Department and review of executive branch nominations that carry out U.S. diplomacy, including secretary of state and U.S. ambassadorships.
Risch’s full statement:
“I am firmly committed to doing whatever is necessary in my capacity as chairman to protect the security and interests of the American people, in addition to continuing to advance U.S. prosperity and leadership. This will necessitate that the committee give attention to the crises of the given moment as well as the larger strategic outlook for the future of American foreign policy. There will be time for both as our committee tackles a number of challenging issues and debates pragmatic solutions.
“I look forward to giving Idaho a voice on the global stage as we look to confront many issues that hit home across my state, like advancing the interests of Idaho citizens and businesses in international trade and investment, promoting Idaho exports, and supporting human rights and confronting the problem of sex trafficking. It is especially timely that important provisions of the Columbia River Treaty will need to be renegotiated by the State Department, which reports directly to this committee, and I will oversee these negotiations with Idaho as my top priority.”
Risch served as chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship and is a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Select Committee on Ethics. Prior to his election to the U.S. Senate, Risch served as Idaho state senator, then as a twice-elected lieutenant governor, and later as Idaho’s 31st governor.