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Berman Wins Chairmanship of Panel Overseeing State Department : Congress: The Democrat says his election as leader of a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee puts him in a better position to influence foreign policy.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In a move expected to enhance his ability to influence foreign policy, Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Panorama City) has been elected chairman of the subcommittee on international operations of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The panel Berman will direct oversees the operation of the State Department--including the diplomatic service and security of its embassies--as well as the U.S. Information Agency and Voice of America. Its duties include approving legislation to authorize the State Department’s annual budget.

In a separate action, Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley) was appointed to the Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Europe and the Middle East.

Berman, 49, an eight-year lawmaker, succeeds Rep. Mervyn M. Dymally (D-Compton), who vacated the chairmanship to become head of the Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa.

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Berman was first in line for the post as a result of his seniority on the subcommittee.

The full Foreign Affairs Committee confirmed Berman’s appointment Tuesday by secret ballot. He was unopposed.

Although the subcommittee does not oversee U.S. foreign policy directly, the chairmanship gives Berman greater standing with the State Department because the agency will need his support for the resources it needs to operate.

“It puts me in a better position to influence our State Department and our foreign policy,” Berman said.

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He cited several immediate goals he would like to address when the Persian Gulf War is concluded.

“I want to make sure that we don’t fall into the same trap with some of the other unsavory figures in that area of the world that we did with Saddam Hussein,” Berman said, referring to the Iraqi leader. “I want to make it a top priority to get the superpowers and the other arms-exporting nations to stop fueling the arms race in the Middle East.”

Some areas of subcommittee jurisdiction are particularly timely.

They include protecting U.S. embassies and personnel from terrorism, safeguarding American citizens overseas and disseminating information through U.S. government broadcasting and other media worldwide.

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The post is Berman’s first subcommittee chairmanship. He came to Congress from the state Assembly, where he served as majority leader.

His 26th District covers the east San Fernando Valley.

In order to accept his new appointment, Gallegly said he will give up his position on the Foreign Affairs international operations subcommittee.

“With the war in the Persian Gulf, the increasing threat of hard-line repression in the Soviet Union, and the challenges and opportunities posed by the move toward European unity, it promises to be a challenging two years ahead for supporters of peace and freedom,” Gallegly said in a news release Tuesday.

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The lawmaker, who is beginning his third term, represents the 21st District, which includes parts of the western and northern San Fernando Valley and eastern Ventura County.


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