Hill preparing for second turn as delegate to United Nations

by Alex Thomas
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
September 5, 2023

WASHINGTON -- The Biden administration sent a list of nominations on Tuesday to the U.S. Senate for the chamber's approval, including the choice of Rep. French Hill, R-Ark., as part of the United States delegation to the United Nations General Assembly.

President Joe Biden announced Sunday his intent to nominate Hill and four others to serve as the U.S. representatives to the international body's annual session. While the General Assembly officially opened Tuesday, the biggest meetings will happen at the U.N.'s New York City headquarters from Sept. 18 to Sept. 26.

The meetings coincide with Hill's increased role on Capitol Hill during this Congress. The Little Rock legislator serves as vice chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and chairman of its subcommittee pertaining to digital assets and financial technology.

The congressman also is a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

During a conversation with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Tuesday, Hill said his committee work is often tied to international financial developments and the United States' relationships with other countries.

"I'm interested in doing it in support of the work I've done on House Foreign Affairs and House Financial Services Committee, and reform ideas for what I term the multilateral institutions," he said, noting the United Nations as an example of a body where multiple nations address shared interests. "How do we make sure that the United States is very much engaged in those institutions and that we are countering authoritarian actions in those institutions that run counter to American interests?"

The president is responsible for selecting delegates to serve as part of the delegation, including one Democrat and one Republican. The House of Representatives and Senate alternate years; Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Republican Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho were part of last year's delegation.

Hill served previously in the United States delegation in 2021 alongside California Democrat Barbara Lee, who will join the congressman for this session. The congresswoman has been a representative on five other occasions since 2007, according to the Congressional Research Service.

"Strong international cooperation is vital in addressing the global challenges of the 21st century, and the U.N. is one of the best tools we have to do so," Lee said in a statement. "I look forward to representing our diverse Congress and continuing to support diplomacy and international peace at UNGA."

The other nominees are former Georgia legislator Calvin Smyre, California real estate developer Jeffrey Worthe and California political consultant Janet Keller.

Hill said his priorities for this session will include efforts among democratic nations related to recruiting junior officers to the United Nations. The congressman said the United States and ally nations have a responsibility to "encourage young people to take positions in the U.N. or other international financial institutions," such as the World Bank.

His concern stems from what Hill described as growing Chinese influence in United Nations agencies, such as service as junior officers.

"We want to make sure that the lessons that we have in our market-based system and belief in democracy are expressed in the ordinary work at the U.N.," he added.

The General Assembly session is taking place amid a busy September on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers are pressed for time to pass multiple items by Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year, including some kind of measure to avert a government shutdown.

Hill said his work and engagement with the United Nations may not happen immediately considering his congressional responsibilities, but rather "in the weeks to come."

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