Sunday, October 24, 2010
The American Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2009
Texas Congressman Pete Olsen (R-TX-22)
A Letter to Texas Congressman Pete Olsen (R-TX-22):
Dear Mr. Olson,
I am writing to encourage you to cosponsor House Resolution 1146, the American Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2009. The legislation is sponsored by Dr. Ron Paul, the seven-term Republican from Texas’s 14th district, which neighbors and has included areas in the 22nd district, which you represent.
The bill would “end membership of the United States in the United Nations.” It currently has two cosponsors – one in Texas’s 3rd district and the other in Tennessee – and in the past it has had as many as eighteen cosponsors. The legislation was referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on February 24th of this year.
The bill originated as the American Sovereignty Restoration Act of 1997. It was introduced by Congressman Paul at the beginning of his service to the 14th district following a 3.5% victory against a Democratic opponent when the district’s Democratic incumbent became a Republican and failed to defeat Paul in the primary.
Congressman Paul has re-introduced the legislation in each of his seven terms representing Texas’s 14th district, and he has been rewarded with ever-increasing margins of victory from his initial election to the office in 1996 until the 2004 election when he ran unopposed. That margin also increased from 2006 to 2008, when he defeated Republican Chris Peden by greater than a two-to-one margin. In 2007, Paul was received with cheering and applause when he expressed his support for withdrawing from the U.N. to an audience in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
In its original form in 1997, the bill called for the repeal of the United Nations Participation Act of 1945; the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization Act of 1946; the United Nations Headquarters Agreement Act of 1947; and the United Nations Environment Program Participation Act of 1973. It also called for the cessation of funds to the U.N. and to its military operations, required that no member of the U.S. Armed Forces serve under U.N. command, and mandated that the U.N. cease to occupy and use all U.S. Government properties and facilities. In the following Congress, the bill was revised to repeal U.S. participation in the World Health Organization.
In September 2000, Congressman Paul argued that President Truman and the Senate did not possess the Constitutional power to enter into such an agreement when the U.N. Participation Act was signed and ratified. He stated that “[t]he American people have not… approved of the Charter of the United Nations which, by its nature, cannot be the supreme law of the land for it was never ‘made under the Authority of the U.S.,’ as required by Article VI.” Quoting Herbert W. Titus, Rep. Paul agreed that “the people’s government officials… have no authority to bind… any… nation’s people to any terms of the Charter of the [U.N.]”, and that treaties may only be made “between or among independent and sovereign nations.” Paul has stated that the U.N. Charter is not a treaty but an illegitimate constitution.
Paul also claimed that past presidents have used the U.N. Security Council to bypass Congress in authorizing the deployment of U.S. Armed Forces. In 2006, Congressman Paul denounced the U.N. as “greedy” and “corrupt” in his criticism of its global tax policy, and he articulated a fear of U.N. encroachment on free speech and the right to bear arms. He opposes “the imposition of global standards of economic and social justice by international agencies and tribunals” on the grounds that global integration undermines State sovereignty. Paul also opposed the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, and claimed that an international superhighway from Mexico through Texas to Canada would “require eminent domain takings on an almost unimaginable scale.”
In 2005, House opponents to withdrawal passed a bill to halve appropriations to the U.N., which would cut its budget by at least ten percent, in an attempt to enforce “reform” upon the international organization. Title I of the bill provides that “it shall be U.S. policy to use its influence at the [U.N.] to pursue an efficient and accountable U.N. regular assessed budget, and shift funding mechanisms for… U.N. programs from the regular assessed budget to voluntarily funded programs”. That legislation also expressed that “reforms, particularly in the areas of planning, management, training, conduct, and discipline, are necessary to restore confidence in U.N. peacekeeping operations.”
Arguments explicitly criticizing the provisions of H.R. 1146 are scarce in the 111th Congress due to the proposed legislation’s overwhelming unpopularity and due to the support of advocating the reform of the United Nations with acts of Congress as the default method of addressing dissatisfaction with the discrepancies between the policies of the U.N. and the U.S..
Since its initial proposal, the American Sovereignty Restoration Act has been repeatedly referred to the Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights, and also to the Committee on International Relations, now known as the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and each time it was cleared from the books before it had the opportunity to see debate.
In the 111th Congress, the bill has again been referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and without many more cosponsors, it is destined to die in committee like its predecessors. Should this occur, and should Rep. Paul be re-elected, the bill would likely be re-introduced to the Committee as early as January 2010.
Prior to his tenure serving Texas’s 14th district, Congressman Paul represented the 22nd district from 1976 to 1977, and again from 1979 to 1985. In accordance with the redistricting resulting from the 2000 U.S. Census, Brazoria County is split between the 14th and 22nd districts. The 22nd district has elected Democrats only twice since Congressman Paul was first elected to serve it, while the 14th district was consistently represented by Democrats for over fifty years until 1985.
In 2000, the districts both had median incomes over $40,000, although residents of the 22nd district earned over 40% more than residents of the 14th district. The districts’ white population percentages were in the low seventies, Hispanic populations were between 20% and 25%, and black populations were approximately 10%. The districts do not appear to be affected by the same problems of racial representation that were suffered half a decade ago by areas to the northwest, and neither district has recently seen a race with a black or Hispanic challenger.
Congressman Pete Olson served the U.S. as a naval aviator, on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as a Naval Liaison Officer to the U.S. Senate, as an aide to Texas Senator Phil Gramm, and as Chief of Staff for Senator John Cornyn prior to becoming a member of the House. He has served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the Homeland Security Committee, and the Scence and Technology Committee, of which he is a ranking member in the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee. In the 111th Congress, Olson has authored legislation to delay the increase of the minimum wage by a year, to require states to report information on Medicaid payments to abortion providers, and to recognize 100 years of military aviation and express continued support for the U.S. Air Force.
Congressman Paul of the 14th district and Congressman Olson of the 22nd district are both white male Christian Republicans over the age of forty-five. Paul is an Episcopalian while Olson is a Methodist, and both have served in the military, Paul having served as a flight surgeon.
While Ron Paul is one of a dozen members of the libertarian-leaning Liberty Caucus of the Republican Party in the House, committed to reducing the size and scope of government, Pete Olson belongs to the hundred-member Republican Study Committee, worked as a staffer for conservative Republicans Phil Gramm and John Cornyn, and represents many of the same constituents in the 22nd district who re-elected embattled former House Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay for over 21 years – 27 years for those living in Congressman Olson’s home town of Sugar Land – as Olson won the 2008 election with nearly 60% of the vote.
A September 2006 poll by Rasmussen found that only 31% of American adults had a favorable opinion of the U.N., and that 26% favored withdrawal. The poll also found that 18% of those faithful to the G.O.P. and 25% of independent Republicans favored the U.N., that Republicans were split on the issue of ceasing U.S. participation, and that Democrats overwhelmingly favored continuing U.S. participation.
Congressman Olson, in 2004, your predecessor in the 22nd district, Congressman Tom DeLay, called the International Criminal Court a danger to the war on terrorism. DeLay has also expressed sentiments regarding gun-owners’ rights and immigration that are similar to those espoused by Congressman Paul. It appears that the Republican constituents who would consistently re-elect Congressman DeLay for over two decades could easily be convinced by their new Republican representative that their support for gun rights and immigration reform would be protected from international influence by Dr. Paul’s legislation. If you pledge support to H.R. 1146, it is very likely that most Republicans and even some Democrats in your district would vote to re-elect you.
Congressman Paul’s overwhelming electoral victory in his seventh consecutive run for the U.S. House indicates that his status is that of a delegate-legislator. His growing clout in national politics became well-established with the outpouring of grassroots support from the American public during his 2008 run for the Republican Party’s nomination for President, for which Paul was permitted to bid without abandoning his seat in the House. He has been re-elected multiple times to the offices of two different congressional districts, and is likely to remain a representative of the 14th district until he chooses to retire.
Due to the history of influence by Representatives Tom DeLay and Ron Paul on the south suburbs of Houston, and considering the fact that you are the only freshman congressman from Texas in the 111th Congress, I would like to encourage you to cosponsor H.R. 1146, to support other similar anti-U.N., anti-globalist, and anti-internationalist legislation – however unpopular – and to represent the constituents of the 22nd district as a politico by showing early support for the new introduction of this long-ignored legislation, despite the fact that the data regarding public opinion on this issue have not been determined for your district.
Traditional conservative Texan concerns such as supporting gun rights, supporting immigration reform, and opposing big government will always need to be represented, and as long as you never waver on these issues, your constituents will view you as a faithful delegate-legislator and consistently vote to re-elect you. Besides, the vast majority of freshman congressmen are re-elected to a second term.
Considering your significant electoral victory margin in 2008, you could very likely pledge support for H.R. 1146 without risking defeat in 2010. You can deflect criticism that you have taken too much liberty as a trustee-legislator by explaining to your constituents that supporting H.R. 1146 helps to support the same issues, only on an international level. This should convince the voters in your base that you still represent their interests, as well as gain support from moderate or independent Republicans and possibly a few Democrats.
If your support for H.R. 1146 backfires and your constituents begin to complain that you are out of touch with their interests, I would suggest that you attempt to reinforce the public’s perception of you as a home-style legislator by making more trips to your offices in Houston and Sugar Land, spend more time speaking and answering question posed by your constituents, and, pending a successful re-election, considering the addition of a third office in the 22nd district, as Congressman Paul has done in the neighboring 14th, or else appropriating more money to the two existing offices in Texas.
Do not be discouraged if legislation favoring the withdrawal of the United States from the United Nations continues to die in committee. Only about one-twelfth of bills make it past this stage in the legislative process.
Congressman Olson, I urge you to act sooner rather than later in pledging and garnering support for the American Sovereignty Restoration Act. The legislation has suffered a decrease in support over the past half-decade, and with only two cosponsors, it has virtually no chance of being considered for debate unless and until it begins to receive continuously increasing support in the House of Representatives, especially from Texans, Republicans, and all small-government fiscal conservatives.
Your double-digit electoral margin of victory in 2008 makes your re-election in 2010 a virtual certainty. Support for H.R. 1146 has only appeared to strengthen Congressman Paul’s success and influence. Demographic trends between the two districts are similar, and ideals that can be construed to support withdrawal from the U.N. appear to be held by a majority of Republican voters in the 22nd district.
Supporting H.R. 1146 and garnering additional support for the legislation among moderate Republicans without risking your chances for re-election and without alienating your base should prove to be easily achievable by increasing communication with your constituents, by directing more attention towards your home offices in general, and by convincing the public face-to-face that ideas that favor U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations also favor the interests of Republicans from Houston’s south suburbs.
Although H.R. 1146 is far from being passed and becoming law, withdrawal from the U.N. will continue to be an issue in the minds of the American public. Considering that Congress and the Presidency are currently controlled by Democrats, who overwhelmingly oppose withdrawal, the issue will likely become more partisan and grow in gravity in the coming several years, especially if the economy fails to rebound quickly enough such that U.S. financial independence is threatened, causing non-interventionism to become a viable option in U.S. foreign policy once again.
This essay was written for a university course on the United States Congress. The letter was not mailed; it was merely written for an assignment and as an exercise.
Originally Written in October 2009
Originally Published on October 24th, 2010
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