Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Policy: Key Issues in the 107th Congress

Among the 107th Congress' first orders of business will be dealing with the initiatives--both domestic and foreign policy--proposed by President Bush throughout his presidential campaign. The 2000 congressional campaigns suggested that the agenda of the 107th Congress will be largely domestic: Social Security, health care, education, taxes, and military pay were prominent in campaigns across America and on post-election news programs. Indeed, many issues discussed in this report will be affected by the resolution of a contentious battle for the presidency. In the Congress, the 50-50 split in the Senate and the close party ratio in the House, along with new House committee chairmen, also will affect the agenda. With less time to organize the presidential transition, and with upcoming Senate votes on executive branch nominations, the 107th Congress will have to split its time between administrative actions and policy concerns. The 107th Congress will help define the U.S. role in the world within the framework of increasing globalization and its effects on U.S. foreign and security policy. A key issue on the congressional agenda will be a debate over how and when to use economic aid and sanctions to achieve U.S. foreign policy goals and objectives. Another focus will continue to be the extent of U.S. involvement in conflicts and crises worldwide, and under what conditions the U.S. is willing to commit military forces and resources to such conflicts. A third category of concerns is the post-Cold War proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and the related debate over the development, testing, and possible deployment of national and theater missile defense systems. Numerous other foreign affairs, trade, and defense issues will face the 107th Congress. In addition to those mentioned above, important themes may include the U.S. role in international peacekeeping; emerging economic globalization and its effect on trade and finance issues facing the United States; and a debate over the state of military readiness, proposed force structure increases, how much to spend on defense and how to set priorities among major defense programs, as well as defense spending in general. The first session of the 107th Congress may act on the FY2002 budget resolution, defense authorization and appropriation bills, and will consider legislation to authorize spending for Department of State and other foreign policy programs and personnel by passing or waiving the biannual foreign relations re-authorization legislation. The 107th Congress will review U.S. foreign aid priorities and participation in international organizations, participate in Quadrennial Defense Review 2001 and the Administration's plans for weapons modernization and achieving efficiencies in defense operations.