Foreign Affairs and Defense
In an increasingly volatile world it is crucial that the United States remain engaged on the world stage and maintain a strong defense. Such engagement prevents terrorist organizations from establishing themselves in weak countries. I have strongly opposed the damaging cuts to our national defense inflicted by sequestration and I am doing all I can to overturn these cuts and support increased funding to properly provide for our national security and engagement abroad.
Pakistan is of strategic importance to the U.S. and is crucial to our security interests in the region. Areas along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan continue to be a haven for numerous extremist and terrorist groups including the FATA and SWAT. This situation presents a clear and present danger not only to Afghanistan and the region but the entire globe as they provide safe haven to terrorists.
Pakistan is a key country in the war against Islamic extremism. Unfortunately, its record is very mixed. Many of the senior Taliban and al-Qaeda leadership were captured or killed with the cooperation of Pakistan. But other Pakistani actions raise questions about its commitment, such as the fact that Osama bin Laden was living for so long in Pakistan and its continued failure to take sufficient action against the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network. It is also concerning that Dr. Shakil Afridi, who helped the United States track down Osama bin Laden, remains imprisoned by Pakistan. Pakistan must strengthen its stance against Islamist terrorism.
In the aftermath of 9/11 attacks, the U.S. launched military operations in Afghanistan to remove the Taliban regime and to stop al Qaeda’s use of Afghanistan as a base of operations for terrorist activities.
Besides removing the Taliban, the core goal of the United States’ mission in Afghanistan has been to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan and to prevent its return. Our troops have done an excellent job, but more remains to be done. An unstable Afghanistan will allow the Taliban or ISIS offshoots to take over and al-Qaeda to establish a sanctuary similar to the situation before 9/11.
That is why I am supportive of the Administration’s plans to increase the presence of troops in Afghanistan and base our strategy there on conditions on the ground instead of artificial timelines. We have seen the unfortunate effects of a premature drawdown in the emergence of ISIS in Iraq.
North Korean remains a primary threat to the United States. Its young leader Kim Jong-un is armed with nuclear weapons and has demonstrated his brutality in the elaborate ways he publicly executes advisers who displease him.
Of particular concern is North Korea’s significant increase in the frequency of its missile tests and alleged hydrogen bomb test in 2017, culminating in its highest missile launch yet at the end of the year. North Korea has also been involved in counterfeiting currency, narcotics trafficking and sophisticated cyber-attacks, most notably the 2014 attack against Sony Pictures in response to a movie called “The Interview” that offended him.
North Korea remains poised to invade South Korea on short notice. The 30,000 American troops there would help our ally repel any invasion. Despite a network of tunnels dug under the Demilitarized Zone, the impoverished North lacks the resources to sustain a mechanized attack. But allied casualties would be severe. Seoul, a city of 10 million, is clearly within range of North Korea's dug-in artillery. And Kim would likely use weapons of mass destruction once his assault bogged down and battlefield failure threatened the survival of his regime.
I support the Administration in the steps it is taking to counter the possibility that Kim Jong Un may launch nuclear weapons. I have supported strong sanctions to increase economic pressure on North Korea and the Administration’s efforts to discourage China from providing it with any assistance.
China is among the key Challenges to our national security. President Xi Jinping presides over a nationalistic country strengthened by an ancient culture, but also weakened by economic inequality, ethnic and religious tension, and official corruption.
China maintains a small arsenal of nuclear missiles that can hit much of our country. But the threat from Beijing comes from its growing naval strength, and the cyber-espionage efforts of its sophisticated signals intelligence service.
Communist China is expanding its Naval power in the South China Sea. It is militarizing artificial reefs near island chains, the ownership of which it contests with Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. I support the Administration in its statements that the China's actions in the South China Sea endanger the free flow of trade, and its efforts to counter this aggression by greatly expanding our Navy which is the smallest we have had since before World War I.
Hackers from China's "Third Peoples Liberation Army" ransack the U.S. of our intellectual property and state secrets. They copy commercial and defense technology from American companies on a vast scale. And they steal personal health, financial and personnel records to help blackmail American officials in sensitive jobs. China has also been active in monitoring Chinese nationals in the United States and has been using its commercially available telecommunications products to further its intelligence efforts. I have been actively involved in countering these efforts through my work on the Intelligence Committee and have registered these concerns with the Secretary of State.
Another major concern is much of the illicit fentanyl linked to the U.S. opioid overdose epidemic is sourced from China. During the President’s visit in late 2017, China further committed to regulate two fentanyl precursor chemicals and to discuss regulating fentanyl and all its analogues as a broad class of drugs. I support these efforts to counter illegal opioids from entering the United States and I will continue to strongly encourage the Administration’s efforts to stop illegal opioids from entering the United States.
Russia is still a significant power with strong nationalist sentiments. It’s leaders in Moscow see Russia as being exploited and humiliated by the West over the quarter-century since the Soviet Union fell. Now it is led by Vladimir Putin a former KGB agent who has exhibited increasing authoritarian power since his return to the Presidency in 2012.
In 2014 Russia seized parts of southern and eastern Ukraine by force. In 2015 it began using combat forces in Syria and cemented alliances with Iraq and Iran. In doing so it established a line of Shia client states stretching from the Mediterranean to the Caspian Seas, a historic strategic coup. Russia is now continuing to increase its aggression toward Eastern Europe and NATO.
Moscow has also been increasing its cyber influences. Russia has been using social media to shape elections around the world, specifically by distributing inflammatory ads that are designed to disrupt the electorate, like those used in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election and in recent European elections in Germany and France. Additionally, Russia has highly effective intelligence service at its disposal, which has penetrated the West in the past.
Through my work in the Intelligence Committee I have been actively working to counteract Russia’s use of social media and other technologies to influence U.S. citizens. I have also supported increased sanctions on Russia and funding to increase the size of our Armed Forces, should we need to increase our presence in Eastern Europe to counter Russian aggression.
Recently, Iraqi forces retook the town of Rawah in Iraq- wrestling control away from the vicious jihadist terrorist organization ISIS. This small town was the last part of Iraq held by ISIS and this is an important victory for the Iraqi people. At the peak of ISIS’s power in 2014, it controlled close to a third of Iraq, including critical cities like Mosul, Tikrit, and Fallujah. This dramatic change in control is a credit to the bravery of the Iraqi people and the support of the Trump Administration. Nonetheless, ISIS still poses a threat to stability in both the Middle East and the entire western world as splinter groups are arising in Africa and Southeast Asia.
In spite of ISIS’s continued defeats, its skilled use of social media continues to serve as a key recruiting tool in converting individuals to its ideology around the world, including the United States. The people of New York were reminded of this on Halloween when Sayfullo Habibullaveic Saipov killed 8 people in the name of ISIS and in December when an ISIS-inspired would-be suicide bomber, Akayed Ullah, set off a homemade explosive device at the Port Authority Bus Terminal subway station.
In the years since it came into existence, this vicious organization has brutally murdered brave Americans like Kayla Mueller, James Foley, Steven Sotloff, and former U.S. Army Ranger Peter Kassig. In addition, an alarming amount of individuals have been arrested for plotting attacks, ranging from bombing Coney Island to killing members of the NYPD, in the name of ISIS.
In the face of these brutal attacks and continued threats, it is critical that the U.S. coalition continues to work with our Middle East allies to forever wipe out ISIS. Please know that I will continue to do all I can as a member of the House Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees to fight terrorism and stop Islamic Extremism.
ISIS’s defeat in its final stronghold of Rawah was a monumental day for the Iraqi people and their government. The Iraqi military police force fiercely fought for the freedom of their country from terrorists. Nonetheless, simply removing ISIS strongholds is not enough to ensure Iraq’s future. It is in America’s interest to ensure that Iraq is a sovereign and stable nation.
As the concerted fight against ISIS winds down, it is crucial that the U.S. coalition works in concert with the Iraqi government to ensure that outside forces that threaten the stability of the nation are unable to make inroads. Most critically, Iran’s continued attempts to foster instability and discord must be counterbalanced. Iranian officials like Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps General Qassem Soleimani continue to plot against Iraq. It is critical that the Iraqi people not be dragged into sectarian conflict when its very stability remains at threat.
The United States has dedicated a great deal of resources in the fight for Iraq. It is more crucial than ever that we not let this progress slip. The focus must remain on a united Iraq that is strong enough to resist the destabilizing efforts of Iran.
Iran poses a grave threat not only to Israel and the Middle East, but also to the United States and the entire world. It is the world's leading state sponsor of terror and continues to violate United Nations Security Council Resolutions in its pursuit of nuclear weapons. That is why I support President Trump’s decision to call upon Congress to take a series of actions against Iran to counteract the dangerous Iran Nuclear Agreement implemented by the Obama Administration.
The agreement allows Iran, after just ten years, to develop a nuclear weapon within one year. During these ten years Iran will retain its nuclear infrastructure and receive hundreds of billions of dollars in sanctions relief which it can use to spread terrorism throughout the world. Additionally, the agreement also allows Iran 24 days to prepare for an inspection, ends the arms embargo in Iran after five years, and also ends the ICBM embargo after eight years. The Obama Administration’s agreement only served to institutionalize Iran’s nuclear program.
The President and National Security Council have crafted a thorough and effective strategy that will reverse failed policies and restore America’s relations with our allies. It is critical that we recognize the threat Iran poses to the entire world and understand that inaction and the status quo is unacceptable.
Below are letters, resolutions, and legislation I have endorsed this Congress to counteract Iran:
* H.Res. 359- This resolution urges the European Union to designate Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization and increase pressure on it and its members.
* H.Res. 201- This resolution calls on the United States to assist Argentina in investigating the Israeli Embassy and AIMA bombings.
* Iran Freedom Policy and Sanctions Act- This bill seeks to impose sanctions against entities owned or controlled by the Armed Forces of Iran.
* Iran Human Rights and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act- This bill calls for additional sanctions with respect to serious human rights abuses of the Government of Iran.
* Iran Ballistic Missiles and International Sanctions Enforcement Act- This bill aims to limit Iran’s ability to develop nuclear-capable ballistic missiles.
* Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act of 2017- This bill seeks to sanction foreign companies, individuals, and countries that financially support Hezbollah.
* Sanctioning Hezbollah’s Illicit Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act- This bill condemns Hezbollah’s use of human shields and urges the President to use U.S. influence at the United Nations Security Council to sanction Hezbollah for its use of human shields.
* Letter to Secretary Tillerson on Coordinator for Sanctions Policy- This letter urged Secretary Tillerson to maintain the position of Coordinator for Sanctions Policy as it crucial to the proper implementation of sanctions against countries like Iran.