Despite US lawmakers previously expressing concerns about the rule of law in Hungary, one lawmaker is trying to pass a motion praising the Hungarian leader.
A politician from the United States Congress has drafted a resolution praising the Hungarian government, despite that same lawmaking body previously expressing concerns about the respect of rule of law and “anti-Semitic” government campaigns in Hungary.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has headed the ruling right-wing party Fidesz since 2003. He has been the head of the Hungarian government since 2010, when Fidesz won a supermajority.
Since then, critics say Orban’s government has consolidated control over the media, launched a fear-mongering campaign against immigrants that many consider ‘racist’, attempted to exert control over courts and driven out a US university tied to billionaire financier George Soros, a Hungarian-American known for championing liberal causes
InsightHungary, the English-language newsletter of Hungarian media outlet Index, said the resolution “applauds the Government of Hungary’s efforts to protect its culture and society” and “urges the President and all Americans to support the freedom-loving Hungarian people and the Orban government in Hungary”.
It was penned by Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona, and calls Orban a “Hungarian patriot involved in the emergence of Hungarian democracy and its governance since 1989”.
But the draft resolution is at odds with other resolutions in both chambers of the US Congress, the House of Representatives and the Senate, wherein members have drafted resolutions to condemn the Orban government’s actions.
House Resolution 400 condemns “steps to weaken democratic institutions, undermine free elections, and limit civil society and free press in Hungary”, in which Russia has exercised “malign influence” in the country, which it deems especially dangerous, as Hungary is a NATO member.
Senate Resolution 30 similarly condemns these actions, adding concerns about a 2011 law on religion which it claims: “Discriminates against some minority faiths by stripping legal recognition from more than 300 previously recognised faiths.”
The Hungarian government did not respond to requests for comment.
Allies in the House
While Orban’s government used to count a few legislators as allies, their numbers have fallen in recent years.
Former Representative Dana Rohrabacher was a friend of Fidesz on the hill and chairman of the subcommittee on Foreign Relations. He held a pro-Hungary hearing in his subcommittee in May 2015 on ‘the Future of US-Hungary Relations’. Rohrabacher was a lawmaker from what was considered one of the most conservative districts in California, making support for Orban’s right-wing government seem like a sure bet.
But Rohrabacher, who held office from 1989 until January 2019 and was also known for his pro-Russia views, lost to a Democrat during a 2018 re-election.
Representative Steve King is another noted friend of Orban, who congratulated the prime minister on his re-election in 2018 and called Hungary the “gold standard for Western Christendom”.
But King has made numerous controversial remarks that appear to defend rape, incest and white nationalist politics.
The controversies stem from a New York Times profile in which he said: “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilisation—how did that language become offensive?
“Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilisation?” King added in the profile.
King has also spoken about “demographic change”, alluding to the “Great Replacement”, a white nationalist theory that immigration is encouraged by elites to dilute white populations.
Orban and members of the ruling Fidesz party have also depicted political leaders in Brussels, the headquarters of the European Union, as ‘pro-immigration’ forces working with Soros to dilute Hungary’s ‘Christian’ character.
Gosar has been an ally to King in the past, working with others this June to have King reinstated to House committees from which he was removed due to his controversial remarks.
Gosar is not an exceptionally well-known lawmaker in the US. Perhaps his most notable – or controversial – moment came in 2015 when he declined to attend Pope Francis’s address to a joint meeting of the US Congress, where he spoke about climate change.
Gosar wrote in an op-ed that he would prefer the pope to speak about issues such as “violent Islam” or Planned Parenthood, which provides birth control information and other services in the US, including abortions.
Gosar was the only member of Congress who did not attend the address.
Gosar is a strict conservative politician, however, making his support of the Hungarian government a safe stance to his base.
InsightHungary noted that two memos are circulating on Capitol Hill, presumably by lobbyists working for the Hungarian Embassy in Washington, DC, that reject allegations in the House resolution.
The memos laud the US-Hungarian relationship, claiming that Hungary is “one of the major supporters” of US policy towards Israel, which has become increasingly supportive since US President Donald Trump took office in January 2017.
Gosar’s draft bill also called attention to Hungary’s joint efforts with the US to block criticism of Israel, which is increasingly considered a right-wing foreign policy move, suggesting that Gosar could have used the memos as a basis for his resolution.
Representatives of Gosar’s office declined to comment on the draft report.
No action is expected to occur on Gosar’s draft until after Congress returns from its August recess.