In an increasingly interconnected world, an active, realistic, and effective foreign policy is more important than ever. I firmly believe that our prosperity increasingly depends on the United States being a leader in the world as we work with our friends and allies to solve complex problems and take advantage of new opportunities. Our nation cannot afford to pull back from the international community on economic, diplomatic, or security matters.
I am working to create a new trade policy for the United States that will shape globalization and help ensure that its benefits are more broadly shared, both here at home and around the world. But broadly shared prosperity also requires us to assist our neighbors in the international community as they work to build strong, democratic societies.
Promoting Peace and Security in the Middle East
There are fundamental changes underway in the Middle East, and these are critical times for millions of people in countries throughout the region, as well as for us as Americans, and for our ally, Israel. As we witness a difficult struggle to establish democracy in the region, we must work to ensure U.S. foreign policy interests are protected. I support the Obama Administration’s efforts to promote democracy, ensure more open and transparent societies, and create lasting security in the region.
One of the most significant threats to our national security and security in the region is the development of Iran’s nuclear program. A nuclear Iran would rattle an already unstable Middle East and pose direct danger to the safety of Israel, our most important ally in the region.
I strongly support the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. It addresses one the most urgent threats facing the region and the world today. The Agreement requires Iran to reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium by 97 percent and refrain from enrichment above a 3.67 percent level for 15 years. It cuts the number of installed centrifuges allowed by two thirds, while retaining only older model centrifuges. The Agreement also requires Iran to render its heavy water reactor inoperable, denying them a source of weapon-grade plutonium. It requires Iran to convert the Fordow enrichment facility into a technology center and places limits on research and development. It allows the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to monitor the uranium supply chain for at least two decades. Because this Agreement is not built on trust, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action has strong verification and inspection measures and is buttressed by major U.S. and EU surveillance capabilities. I believe the region and the world is safer and more stable with this Agreement. You can read my full statement on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action here.
I have supported sanctions against Iran for many years. I worked closely with former Rep. Howard Berman, then Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, to target any financial backing to Iran’s energy sector. The Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act [P.L. 111-195], imposed sanctions on any person or business who assists Iran’s efforts to acquire refined petroleum. Such actions include financial investments, shipping petroleum, or providing machinery to undertake enrichment efforts. More recently, in response to Iran’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons technology, I supported bipartisan efforts in the 112th Congress to expand sanctions to cover additional sectors of the Iranian economy and the Iranian Central Bank as well as to target human rights abusers. These sanctions proved to be instrumental in bringing Iran to the negotiating table in the nuclear negotiations.
We must also act to bolster the security of our ally Israel. We should promptly conclude the next ten-year Memorandum of Understanding on Foreign Military Financing and accelerate the co-development by the U.S. and Israel of the Arrow-3 and David's Sling missile defense systems and increase funding for Israel's life-saving missile defense, the successful Iron Dome system.
Development and Humanitarian Assistance
As a former Assistant Administrator at the U.S. Agency for International Development, I recognize how helping other countries build stronger economies and reduce poverty is important to our own prosperity and security. Humanitarian and economic development assistance reinforce America’s role as a world leader, promote democracy and stability, and create new markets for our goods and services. From the Marshall Plan after World War II to the Millennium Challenge Corporation today, Americans have long understood that when we help our neighbors, we create a stronger and safer international community.
Recent years have provided vivid examples for the importance of U.S. assistance, particularly when natural disasters strike. For instance, when a devastating earthquake shattered Haiti’s economy in 2010, the least developed country in the Western Hemisphere was extremely vulnerable. Once the earthquake hit, it became clear that something needed to be done to help our southern neighbor Haiti.
Along with Reps. Rangel and Camp, I co-introduced The Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP) Act, aimed to help speed Haiti’s economic recovery by expanding duty-free access to the U.S. market for additional Haitian textile and apparel exports and extending existing trade preference programs for Haiti through 2020.
Global Health and HIV/AIDS
I strongly support our nation’s efforts to fight the spread of deadly infectious diseases, particularly HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. Globally, AIDS has been the leading cause of death for people aged 15 to 59 since 2002. An estimated 34 million people are currently living with HIV and an estimated 1.7 million people died of AIDS in 2011, the most recent year with available data. Approximately 1.4 million people die of tuberculosis each year. Every 30 seconds, a child dies from malaria, making it the largest killer of children in Africa.
We must stop the epidemics of HIV, TB, and malaria. Our long-term prosperity and security are inextricably linked to our commitment to help build stronger economies and reduce poverty around the world. Promoting public health is a critical component of this effort. Disease cripples not only individuals, but economies as well, preventing parents from supporting their families and leaving children orphaned with no financial security, limited opportunities for education, and narrow prospects for the future.
As a member of the bi-partisan global Health Caucus, I am working with my colleagues to fight the challenges these diseases present. I am also a supporter of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and of robust U.S. support for the multilateral Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
(Updated September 4, 2015)