Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen tells Newsmax she is "very worried" about President Barack Obama's plan to drastically reduce the size of America's nuclear arsenal.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV, the Florida Republican also says she opposes Sen. John McCain's call for American military action in Syria, favors the creation of a select committee to probe the Benghazi tragedy, and insists an immigration-reform bill will not be "rushed to the floor" of Congress as Obamacare was.
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Ros-Lehtinen was first elected to the House in 1989 and is the senior woman Republican in the House. She was chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and currently is chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Middle East and South Asia.
Obama reportedly is prepared to reduce the U.S. nuclear arsenal without Congress' approval.
Such a move would demonstrate "an erosion of congressional oversight, an erosion of congressional power, and more absorption of executive privileges by the president and his cabinet," Ros-Lehtinen says.
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"He values very little the work of the Congress in terms of working with us, rolling up his sleeves and talking to us about how would we reduce our nuclear arsenal.
"Of course, we would like to see a reduction of the nuclear arsenal worldwide, but what I fear is disarmament only by the United States.
"It worries me on two grounds: No. 1, that it shows more arrogance from the Obama White House, a continuation of a disdain for Congress, and that he believes that Congress has no role in U.S. foreign policy. And No. 2, a willingness to do away with our nuclear capabilities no matter what other countries do. It's a slippery slope. I'm very worried about it."
As to what House Republicans can do to stop Obama's arbitrary use of power, Ros-Lehtinen says: "We continue to call him out on it. We are not silent. We do not acquiesce comfortably. We don't say, 'Sure, hit me again please, roll over me, no problems whatsoever.'
"We do call him out on it, but there's a very la-dee-da kind of attitude from many in the mainstream press who don't want to get on the bad side of the president, who don't want to say, why don't you work with Congress on this issue?
"Now, I would hope that Secretary of State John Kerry, with the long and distinguished career that he had in the United States Senate, would be a stronger voice for allowing Congress to exert our role. We clearly have a voice, and we demand to have a place at the table and not be continually run over by the imperial presidency."
Sen. John McCain has told Newsmax, especially in light of reports that the Assad regime is using chemical weapons in Syria, that it's time to take military action to oust Assad without putting U.S. troops into Syria.
Asked if she agrees, Ros-Lehtinen declares: "No. I value Sen. McCain, I respect him highly. I disagree with him on this issue.
"First of all, I don't agree that we should arm the rebels. There are so many groups of rebels and each of them has their own agenda. We don't know how many have been co-opted by Assad to appear to be rebels when, in fact, they are not. So I'm against arming them.
"That whole area is awash with weapons, as we saw with the terrible attack on our consulate in Benghazi. There is no lack of weapons in that area of the world.
"Turkey has the most at stake here, so Turkey should on its own decide to take action against Syria if they wish. Turkey has so many refugees that they have taken from Syria. Jordan has taken thousands and thousands of refugees fleeing from the turmoil in Syria. A lot of these countries will be on less firmer ground if they don't solve this Syria problem, but what U.S. national security interests are at stake in Syria?
"That it's a humanitarian disaster, I don't disagree. But are we going to participate in every terrible humanitarian crisis?
"Our biggest problem continues to be a nuclear Iran. Let's keep focusing on that, because if not, they will have nuclear arms and we will be very poor for it."
The White House has released what it describes as the complete Benghazi emails, but Ros-Lehtinen believes that Speaker John Boehner should still appoint a select committee to investigate.
"I have thought long and hard on this issue," she tells Newsmax.
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"As a former chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I understand committee jurisdiction, and the five committees have been doing a wonderful job in holding hearings and holding people accountable on Benghazi.
"The reason I support the establishment of a select committee is because I know that what we do is almost like playing a carnival game of Whack-A-Mole. You've got Syria, you've got Iran, you've got Israel, you've got what's happening in Africa, you've got Egypt and the Morsi Brotherhood, you've got North Korea being a nuclear power. There are so many issues that you have to deal with – Venezuela post-Chavez. You just can't have the focus on one issue, which Benghazi deserves.
"Look at all of the scandals that the Obama administration is embroiled with. We've got the IRS debacle where they were targeting tea party and conservative groups. You have also the AP phone records that were taken by the Department of Justice, which is an incredible intrusion into privacy.
"You've got so many scandals brewing and then you've got Benghazi, which resulted in the deaths of four Americans.
"There are so many issues that come up every day. How will you be able to focus on Benghazi? That's why I believe we need a select committee."
Ros-Lehtinen's fellow Floridian, Sen. Marco Rubio, says the bipartisan immigration-reform proposal won’t pass the House without some work, and House Republicans say their version of immigration reform won’t include amnesty.
Ros-Lehtinen comments: "The House product is going to be a different product. They will come out with their plan any moment now.
"What we want to make sure is that regular order is followed, that people have the opportunity to present amendments, that this bill will not be rushed to the floor, that there will be border security, and that the American people will have an opportunity to read the bill.
"None of this Obamacare rush at the last minute, with nobody being able to read it — like Nancy Pelosi famously said, 'We'll have to pass the bill in order to know what's in it.' Those are things of the past. People will not put up with that kind of legislation ever again."
In her Newsmax interview, Ros-Lehtinen also says America's porous border facilitates the human trafficking she calls "modern-day slavery."
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