WASHINGTON – Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee questioning U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley attacked her for some of President Donald Trump’s policies, including Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), who criticized Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate change agreement.
“We don’t want China and Russia telling us how we need to handle our climate,” Haley said at Wednesday’s hearing, held to inquire about how best to advance U.S. interests at the U.N.
The heated exchange began when Connolly asked Haley if her U.N. colleagues had praised Trump’s decisions on the climate change agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that Trump also curtailed.
“The U.S. has to make decisions that are in the best interest of the U.S.,” Haley said. “It’s not in the best interest for our businesses or our industries.”
“We are not going to throw the climate out the window,” Haley said. “We’re going to continue to manage that.”
“You may not agree with how we manage that, but I will tell you that I think what the president did is in the best interest of businesses, and it was in the best interest of the country,” Haley said. “And that does not mean we are not going to be good stewards of the climate.”
Connolly said that the U.S. was not forced to join the Paris climate agreement, at which time Haley pointed out that the Senate had not approved the Paris plan as is required by international treaties. Former President Barack Obama called it an “executive agreement” when he bypassed Congress and signed onto the Paris accord last year.
Connolly took another jab at Trump, sarcastically calling it a “proud moment” for the U.S. when the U.S. joined the other two countries that he said have not signed on to the Paris agreement: Nicaragua and Syria.
Haley disagreed. “We’re being independent,” she said.
In her prepared testimony, Haley said her job is to stand up for U.S. interests at the U.N.
“At my confirmation hearing I made the following promise: ‘If I am privileged to be the U.S ambassador, I will never sit passively while America’s interests – and America’s friends – are run down at the U.N.,’” she affirmed.
“Five months later, I can say that I haven’t been quiet on the issues important to the United States,” Haley said. “And I can say this: I have kept my promise.”
“Our friends and our rivals know that America has once again found its voice at the United Nations,” Haley concluded.
Committee Chairman Rep. Ed. Royce (R-CA) praised Haley’s tenure as U.N. ambassador.
“In her first few months, Ambassador Nikki Haley has approached her job with determination and purpose,” Royce said.
“Chairing the U.N. Security Council in April, she spotlighted the grave security challenges of North Korea and nuclear proliferation,” Royce said. “She has castigated Iran and Hezbollah for their role in sowing instability across the Middle East.
“And Ambassador Haley has made it crystal clear that the U.N. Human Rights Council’s record of protecting dictators cannot stand,” Royce said. “Indeed, as Ambassador Haley has declared, the United States role at the U.N. is to ‘show our strength, show our voice, [and] have the backs of our allies.’
“Well said, Ambassador,” Royce said.