Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday warned House Republicans about pushing ahead with a bill to cut funds for the United Nations, saying she would recommend that President Barack Obama veto the legislation.
In a letter to lawmakers, Clinton said the bill would severely limit U.S. participation in the world body, undercut U.S. interests and damage the security of Americans at home and abroad. The House Foreign Affairs Committee plans to consider the legislation on Thursday.
Clinton said international cooperation is critical to push American interests such as "staunching nuclear proliferation, combatting terrorism, fully implementing sanctions on countries such as Iran and North Korea, preventing conflict around the globe, and supporting elections in countries just undergoing transition to democracy."
She also said the legislation undermines the ability of the United State to share costs with other countries.
"This bill would effectively cede American leadership, creating a void for our adversaries to fill," Clinton wrote.
The legislation, which has more than 50 Republican co-sponsors, would pressure the U.N. to adopt a voluntary funding system by withholding 50 percent of the U.S. non-voluntary regular budget contributions if, after two years, 80 percent of the U.N. regular budget is not funded on a voluntary rather than assessed basis.
In the 2010 budget year, the U.S. provided $7.7 billion to the U.N. for its regular budget, peacekeeping and other programs, up from $6.1 billion the previous year.
The bill also would block U.S. funds for any United Nations entity that supports giving Palestine an elevated status at the U.N. and ban U.S. contributions to the U.N. Human Rights Council and an anti-racism conference seen as a platform for anti-Israel rhetoric.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., chairwoman of the committee, is a frequent critic of the United Nations. In defending her legislation, she has said the international organization is plagued by scandal, mismanagement and inaction, and is biased against the United States and Israel.
Clinton acknowledged problems with the U.N. but said that "for all its imperfections, (it) is indispensable to advancing" U.S. goals.
Although Clinton raised the specter of a presidential veto, the legislation has little chance in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter.