New Senate committee assignments have been made, and Rand Paul adds Foreign Relations to his portfolio (which also includes Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Small Business; and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs).
To date Senator Paul’s foreign-policy concerns have been rather different from what either neoconservative hawks or non-interventionist doves might have expected: he’s been very critical of foreign aid, particularly when it’s aid to countries with illiberal tendencies, but he’s also written favorably of institutions like the International Republican Institute, which is involved in various forms of democracy-promotion. His Foreign Relations assignment means he should be adding a staffer dedicated to that area, and it’ll interesting to see his pick.
The assignment itself is encouraging for those who’d like the Republican Party to back away the hyper-interventionism associated with his now fellow committee member John McCain, but Senator Paul is caught between constituencies that can’t all be satisfied: fans of his father would like to see him take a firm and consistent non-interventionist line, while many Tea Party conservatives are happier to hear him echo the us-against-them rhetoric typical of the post-Bush GOP. Emphasizing foreign aid — detested by Ron Paul libertarians and Fox News viewers for different reasons — has allowed him to split the difference so far. The Foreign Relations assignment, however, will generate a legislative record sure to be scrutinized closely by all sides — which is probably what the Senate leadership had in mind in making this placement.