The most important function of government is to ensure the safety of its citizens. We must continue to make critical investments in our national security and strengthen our partnerships abroad. However, I also believe that the choice between our values and our safety is a false one. We face many challenges abroad, but I am fully committed to our proud tradition of engaged, sustained, and competent global leadership.
The War in Gaza and Insecurity in Israel and the Middle East
I am sickened by the horrific acts Hamas carried out on October 7 against the people of Israel. Over 1,400 innocent civilians, including at least 39 American citizens, lost their lives to this violent attack. Many more have been injured or lost family members and friends, and hundreds remain unaccounted for, likely held hostage in Gaza. Israel can and will defend itself, and the United States will remain steadfast in our support. I continue to support the U.S.-Israel Memorandum of Understanding and supplemental funding to replenish Israel’s missile defense systems, including the Iron Dome and David’s Sling.
I am also horrified by the loss of civilian lives in Gaza. I strongly condemn Hamas for its use of civilians as human shields and blatant lack of value for human life. Harm to Palestinian civilians must be mitigated wherever possible and Israel should abide by the Geneva Conventions and international laws. I strongly support the implementation of humanitarian corridors to mitigate civilian deaths in Gaza and to ensure the delivery and distribution of humanitarian aid in the territory, as well as humanitarian pauses to allow much needed aid to enter Gaza. I continue to condemn settler attacks on Palestinians and urge the Israeli government to ensure the safety of Palestinian civilians. The increase in Palestinian evictions from their homes and settlement building in the West Bank is detrimental to stability in the territory and is a barrier to a future peaceful solution.
As the war between Israel and Hamas continues to intensify, efforts to stabilize the region and reduce the loss of civilian life are even more critical. It is important to remember that this most recent war is not an isolated event. The conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people began decades ago. I will continue to stand firm in my support for both peoples’ rights to exist with dignity, peace, and security. I believe in a future two-state solution, in which Israel and Palestine live within recognized and safe borders. The Israeli and Palestinian people deserve and require nothing less after decades of violence.
Reclaiming Congress’s Duty to Declare War
For too long Congress has accepted gradual encroachment on its power to make and declare war by the executive branch. I have introduced a bill, the Reclamation of War Powers Act, to reaffirm the duty of Congress to have public debate on the use of our military men and women in hostilities in foreign lands.
I continue to push for a new authorization for use of military force (AUMF) to limit the increasing use of U.S. troops under the umbrella of the 2001 and 2002 AUMF and avoid future military quagmires.
Supporting Development Abroad
Targeted, effective international aid programs ease the suffering of millions each day and are among the very best investments we can make in our national security and long-term prosperity. International aid is a powerful tool of soft power that can prevent the chaos and instability that serve as a breeding ground for terrorist recruitment. Having spent much of my youth in Latin America, where my father worked for the Ford Foundation, I have a deep personal interest in America’s relationships abroad. I strongly believe in programs and partnerships that help developing nations build healthy and productive communities.
Reductions in Nuclear Weapons
The threat of an attack with a nuclear weapon by a state or terrorist organization continues to be an enduring danger facing Americans. I fully support the comprehensive strategy of non-proliferation and nuclear security and pledge to do all I can to push for a world free of nuclear weapons.
I have been proud to support several measures to strengthen sanctions against Iran, including the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act, the toughest sanctions against Iran ever passed by the United States and the Iran Sanctions Extension Act, which imposed financial penalties on any persons directly investing in or significantly contributing to the enhancement of Iran’s ability to develop its petroleum resources. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, signed in 2015, was integral to changing the nuclear threat that Iran was close to posing, by reducing their uranium stockpiles by 97%. Former President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement represents a significant step back. Going forward, I am supportive of continued negotiations, with the goal of achieving another comprehensive deal.
I have and will continue to advocate for engagement with the Chinese as a mechanism to deescalate nuclear tensions with a belligerent North Korean regime and supported the Korean Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act. These sanctions are intended to encourage North Korea to engage in negotiations that will hopefully lead to a peaceful and diplomatic solution.
As Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), I conduct oversight of the 17 separate federal agencies that make up the U.S. Intelligence Community, including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and National Security Agency (NSA). Since joining the committee in February 2013, I have worked to ensure the federal government strikes the right balance between respecting the privacy of American citizens and protecting our nation from acts of terrorism.
Security and Privacy
Two decades after September 11, 2001, we are still seeking a reasonable balance among security, privacy, and civil liberties. I joined a bipartisan majority of the Intelligence Committee in passing the USA FREEDOM Act that was signed into law in June 2015. This bill modified the contentious USA PATRIOT Act, which after 9/11 gave the federal government sweeping authorities. The USA FREEDOM Act ended bulk collection programs and made improvements in FISA Court reforms and greater National Security Letter transparency.
I have introduced legislation to improve oversight of the intelligence community by requiring certain entities to send annual reports, compliance assessments, and FISA court procedural rule changes, decisions and pleadings to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.
The constant threat of cyberattacks is one of the greatest our nation faces. I have long promoted the idea of international norms to guide countries in their behavior and responses to attack. Nonproliferation agreements were negotiated to curtail the growth of nuclear weaponry during the second half of the 20th Century. Now is the time for the international community to seriously respond with a binding set of international rules for cyberwarfare: an E-Neva Convention.
In my former capacity as Chair of the Strategic Technologies and Advanced Research Subcommittee, I wrote a report that presents the Subcommittee’s views and recommendations on critical components for the United States to focus on to lead in the development of these technologies. The report also identifies those that are best suited for legislative action, executive branch initiatives, or further study.
To read the report please click here.
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