Peter Welch on Foreign Policy
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. IKE SKELTON (D, MO-4): Pakistan is important to the Middle East and our intentions there. Their cooperation, of course, is so very, very important. This legislation gives economic and democratic development assistance to that country.
Rep. HOWARD BERMAN (D, CA-28): We can't allow al Qaeda or any other terrorist group that threatens our national security to operate with impunity in the tribal regions or any other part of Pakistan. Nor can we permit the Pakistani state and its nuclear arsenal to be taken over by the Taliban. To help prevent this nightmare scenario, we need to forge a true strategic partnership with Pakistan and its people, strengthen Pakistan's democrat government, and work to make Pakistan a source of stability in a volatile region.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN (R, FL-18): This bill focuses on past actions and failures attributed to the Pakistani Government, punishing the new leadership for the sins of its predecessors. While the authors of H.R. 1886 may have sought to empower our Pakistani partners to undertake the formidable task of fighting and winning against violent extremists, it does the opposite. We have gone down this road before. I recall during the Iraq debate, Members sought to prejudge the surge strategy before it could even be implemented. Let us hope that this will not be repeated with respect to Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. HOWARD BERMAN (D, CA-28): Integrating India into a global nonproliferation regime is a positive step. Before anyone gets too sanctimonious about India's nuclear weapons program, we should acknowledge that the five recognized nuclear weapons states have not done nearly enough to fulfill their commitments under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, including making serious reductions in their own arsenals, nor in the case of the US in ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. BARBARA LEE (D, CA-9): In withholding my approval, I seek not to penalize the people of India but, rather, to affirm the principle of nuclear nonproliferation. Jettisoning adherence to the international nuclear nonproliferation framework that has served the world so well for more than 30 years, as approval of the agreement before us would do, is just simply unwise. It is also reckless.
Approval of this agreement undermines our efforts to dissuade countries like Iran and North Korea from developing nuclear weapons. By approving this agreement, all we are doing is creating incentives for other countries to withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
A bill to exempt the African National Congress from treatment as a terrorist organization. [The ANC is now the ruling party of South Africa; as head of the ANC, Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years by the apartheid government before becoming President of South Africa].
The Arab American Institute has compiled a Scorecard to catalogue the voting record of the 112th Congress on issues of importance to the Arab American community. For the House, we included 15 items: two bills on the Arab Spring, five bills and one letter on Palestine, two bills on Lebanon, three bills and a letter regarding civil liberties, and two bills on immigration.
RESOLUTION expressing concern over persistent and credible reports of systematic, state-sanctioned organ harvesting from non-consenting prisoners of conscience, in the People's Republic of China, including from large numbers of Falun Gong practitioners imprisoned for their religious beliefs, and members of other religious and ethnic minority groups.
The current outbreak of Ebola in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia is an international health crisis and is the most widespread outbreak of the disease ever recorded.
Amid dire warnings from medical professionals and frantic calls from Congress for greater US intervention, Pres. Obama said he'll deploy 3,000 American troops to combat an African Ebola outbreak that he says is "spiraling out of control."
The announcement comes as the Ebola death toll officially has reached 2,400, though specialists say underreporting in affected nations means the true numbers likely are much higher.
The US effort will be funded by $500 million in overseas contingency funding that the Pentagon wants to redirect to humanitarian missions. Specifically, the mission will include the training of as many as 500 new doctors and health care workers each week; the construction of at least 17 health care facilities in the region; the establishment of a joint command center in Monrovia, Liberia; and the distribution of home health-care kits in affected areas.
Others blasted the administration for taking a bite out of the Pentagon budget. "You can't have it both ways. You can't slash our defense budget on one hand, while expecting our military to do it on the other," said Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Congressional Summary: HR 3326: World Bank Accountability Act: Requires withholding 15% of appropriation if countries borrowing from the World Bank's International Development Association are not implementing the UN Security Council resolution to impose sanctions on North Korea. Withholds an additional 15% if the World Bank approved a loan to a country designated by the US as a state sponsor of terrorism.
Statement in support by Rep. French Hill (R-AR-2): The World Bank's extravagant and unaccountable spending practices have been in conflict with the values of Americans for far too long. This bill helps put an end to sending hard-earned American dollars to despots and corrupt regimes. [We should instead] see these funds used how they were truly intended, which is to help lift individuals out of poverty and put them on the pathway to success.
Statement in opposition by IssueVoter.org: Opponents say that withholding funds may undercut the credibility and leverage the World Bank has to get reforms enacted and implemented. "America's leadership at the World Bank is 'one of the major tools in our soft power arsenal'". If the U.S. cuts obligations too much, it will cede that power.
Statement in opposition by Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA-6) on Medium.comJan 22, 2018: H.R. 3326 is taking a hammer approach to a multilateral organization that provides support for millions of people in the world's most impoverished countries. It is also concerning that this legislation is being considered at a time when the Trump Administration is actively seeking to back away from any and all international organizations. Additionally, the World Bank is already implementing a series of reforms.
Legislative outcome: Jan. 17, 2018 House Bill Passed 237-184 (Roll no. 24); bill died in Senate committee.
Legislative summary: The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act:
Statement in support by Sen. Cruz: Sen. Ted Cruz joined Sen. Marco Rubio in introducing H.R.6210 to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for the use of force labor. "The Chinese Communist Party has transformed Xinjiang into a technological dystopia and a human rights horror," Sen. Cruz said. "Time and time again from the CCP we see the complete and total disregard for human life and values.."
Statement in opposition in Washington Post: Researchers estimate the Chinese government has placed more than 1 million people into internment camps in Xinjiang. While US law already prevents companies from importing goods that were made using forced labor, the law is seldom enforced. Apple is heavily dependent on Chinese manufacturing; alleged forced Uighur labor has been used in Apple's supply chain. A report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute alleged four instances in which labor from the Xinjiang region has been connected to Apple's supply chain: In 2017, the Chinese government transferred between 1,000 and 2,000 Uighurs to work at a factory owned by O-Film, which helps make selfie cameras for Apple's iPhone.
Legislative outcome: Passed House 406 3-22,(2/3 required) Roll no. 196 on 09/22/2020.
Prohibits the President from regulating or prohibiting travel to or from Cuba by U.S. citizens or legal residents or any of the transactions ordinarily incident to such travel, except in time of war or armed hostilities between the United States and Cuba, or of imminent danger to the public health or the physical safety of U.S. travelers.
Dear President Obama,
Thank you for your ongoing work to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and for your commitment of $300 million in US aid to rebuild the Gaza Strip. We write to you with great concern about the ongoing crisis in Gaza.
The people of Gaza have suffered enormously since the blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt following Hamas’ coup, and particularly following Operation Cast Lead. We also sympathize deeply with the people of southern Israel who have suffered from abhorrent rocket and mortar attacks. We recognize that the Israeli government has imposed restrictions on Gaza out of a legitimate and keenly felt fear of continued terrorist action by Hamas and other militant groups. This concern must be addressed without resulting in the de facto collective punishment of the Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip. Truly, fulfilling the needs of civilians in Israel and Gaza are mutually reinforcing goals.
For 2019, Congress appropriated and authorized $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine: $250 million in funds administered by DOD and $141 million in funds administered by the State Department. On June 18, DOD issued a press release announcing its intention to provide $250 million in taxpayer-funded security assistance to Ukraine following the certification that all legitimate conditions on the aid, including anti-corruption reforms, had been met. Shortly after this announcement, however, both the OMB and DOD received inquiries from the President related to the funds. At that time, and throughout the next few months, support for Ukraine security assistance was overwhelming and unanimous among all of the relevant agencies and within Congress.
By July 25, the date of President Trump's call with President Zelensky, DOD was also receiving inquiries from Ukrainian officials about the status of the security assistance. Nevertheless, President Trump continued to withhold the funding to Ukraine without explanation, against the interests of U.S. national security, and over the objections of these career experts
By early September, President Zelensky was ready to make a public announcement of the two investigations [into Burisma and the Bidens] to secure a White House meeting and the military assistance his country desperately needed. He proceeded to book an interview on CNN during which he could make such an announcement, but other events soon intervened. On September 9, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the Committees on Oversight and Reform, and the Committee on Foreign Affairs announced an investigation into the scheme by President Trump and his personal attorney, Mr. Giuliani "to improperly pressure the Ukrainian government to assist the President's bid for reelection."
On September 11, in the face of growing public and Congressional scrutiny, President Trump lifted the hold on security assistance to Ukraine.
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Special Elections 2021:
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