Turner Gets Foreign Affairs Seat

Rep. Bob Turner, the newly minted Republican congressman from New York's 9th District, is also the newest member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) chairman of the committee, praised him as "outspoken in his support for our key ally, Israel, and a strong opponent of the unilateral Palestinian scheme to seize statehood at the United Nations."

 Keeping his chairman (yes, she calls herself chairman) as well as constituents happy, he quickly cosponsored one of her pet projects, legislation to block US funding for any UN agency that upgrades the status of the Palestinians at the United Nations.  It's not a surprise since he ran on a platform that although a Roman Catholic, would make him more pro-Israel than the Democratic candidate, David Weprin, an Orthodox Jew with a long personal and family history of support for Israel.

Turner, who fills the congressional seat vacated by the resignation of the narcissistic Tweeter Rep. Anthony (the) Weiner, vowed to "oppose further attempts by the U.N. to recognize a Palestinian state."

Ros-Lehtinen has put a block on all U.S. aid to the Palestinians, and after Mahmoud Abbas' diatribes against Israel at the U.N., few of her colleagues in either party are inclined to object.  Her message: No money until you withdraw your membership application.  That's not the last word, but for now it is holding.

Look for a lot more grandstanding than legislating coming out of the committee in the coming months, insiders tell me.  Attempts to cut funds to the Palestinians, the United Nations and friendly Arab countries may make it out of the committee and even pass the Republican-controlled House, but they're likely to die in the Democratic-controlled Senate, where the Foreign Relations Committee is chaired by Sen. John Kerry.

 Turner also has been named to the Homeland Security Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who likes to hold high-profile hearings on the threat of Islamic extremism, a topic important to constituents in his Brooklyn-Queens district.

Like all freshman lawmakers, Turner will focus on building a record he can take to constituents in next year's election – if his district even survives. New York is losing two of its 29 seats as a result of the 2010 census and congressional maps are being redrawn in Albany.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.