I believe America has an indispensable role to play in promoting health, human rights, opportunity, and freedom around the world. And therefore, I believe a strong commitment to foreign aid is vital.
We already spend less than 1% of our federal budget on foreign aid, but our small investments in humanitarian, health, and education assistance reap rewards for the American people by helping to reduce violence and promote stability.
Foreign aid also helps our country build new friendships abroad and to create a more prosperous and peaceful world. Even military leaders say diplomacy and development are key components of maintaining American security.
That is why I believe we should be investing more in foreign assistance. Each year, I support requests of billions of dollars in appropriations for clean water, the Peace Corps, international basic education, global health programs, and other forms of economic and material aid that have been shown to save lives and promote peace for very little investment on our part.
I do not believe that nuclear weapons should be considered as a first option, nor do I believe they should be used hastily. That is why I cosponsored legislation to prohibit the president from conducting a first-use nuclear weapon strike without congressional approval. A nuclear strike is a clear act of war and therefore, the power rests with the United States Congress.
Nuclear proliferation is also a serious threat, which requires early action to prevent. That is why I’m supportive of diplomatic efforts to stop burgeoning nuclear programs in unfriendly countries like North Korea and Iran. Past experiences have shown that diplomacy can be an effective means of reducing the threat of a nuclear conflict. I believe the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which effectively stopped Iran’s nuclear program, was a success of diplomacy and peace and should be supported. I oppose President Trump’s attempts to weaken this agreement by pulling out of it. That decision risks conflict with our allies while paving the way for Iran to resume their nuclear program.
I’m committed to strengthening the U.S.-Armenia relationship. Our countries share deep economic ties, and I’m proud to support our foreign aid to Armenia each year. But I know we can do more. That is why I have also called for a new double tax treaty to help businesses here who also do business in Armenia to thrive and bring our countries closer in mutual prosperity.
Standing with Armenia also means standing with the people of Artsakh who have been under attack by Azerbaijan since their peaceful call for self-determination. Azerbaijan’s violent response is unacceptable. That is why I condemned the violence and joined my House colleagues to send a letter to the president urging him to work with both sides to bring peace to the people of Artsakh. I have also called to suspend aid to Azerbaijan if they continue in their aggression against the people of Artsakh.
Finally, it is time we recognize the historical reality of the Armenian Genocide. The horrific and intentional murder of Armenians will not be forgotten and cannot be ignored. I’ve been a proud cosponsor of the House resolution to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide each Congress. This resolution would put the U.S. on the right side of history, and I will continue to speak out until our government does the right thing and acknowledges the tragedy of the Armenian Genocide.
The US and Israel share a great friendship based on common security interests and shared values. I believe we must stand by Israel by continuing our robust foreign assistance, speaking out against those who try to delegitimize Israel through boycotts, divestments, and sanctions, and supporting the goal of a two-state solution that will finally bring peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians.
But steps like the destruction of Palestinian villages in the West Bank in order to build settlements make a negotiated two-state solution more difficult, which is why I have supported calls for Israel to halt these destructions. I am also troubled by the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and President Trump’s decision in early 2018 to withhold more than 80 percent of U.S. contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA). This aid is critical to providing services in Gaza, where more than 50 percent of the children live beneath the poverty level and 95 percent of tap water is not safe to drink. The decision to cut aid will exacerbate humanitarian and security issues.
Ultimately, I continue to believe that a negotiated agreement that establishes two states living side-by-side in peace and security remains the only solution to the ongoing conflict. Questions of borders, governance, terrorism, and refugees loom large. But these problems can be resolved through the Israelis and Palestinians sitting down to negotiate together.