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FOREIGN POLICY

Syria

I have long advocated a tougher policy response to the situation in Syria. I was the author of the Syria Accountability Act, which imposed sanctions on Syria in 2003, and I believe we must stand up against the Assad regime's massacres of its own people and defeat ISIS once and for all. I believe that the time has come for the international community to support the opposition Free Syrian Army and stand up to the terrorists and despots that are currently wreaking havoc across that country.

I am aware that this strategy has risks, and we must take concerns about widening the conflict seriously.  But, today, the Iranians and Russians are openly supporting Assad’s massacre squads while ISIS operates freely across large areas of the country. Syrians deserve a chance to fight back.  Moreover, the collapse of Bashar’s government in Damascus would be a body blow to Iran and to Hezbollah, which gets its largess from Tehran through Syria. I think we need to stand against ISIS, stand against repression, and stand with the rebels.

Kosova

After years of human rights violations and severe ethnic cleansing, Kosova is finally a free and independent nation. It has been an honor to work with my friends in Kosova as they seek to consolidate their democracy and build the institutions of their new state.

Today, Kosova is no longer seeking freedom from Belgrade's dominance. As a sovereign nation, the battle is now to increase the number of countries recognizing the Republic of Kosova so that it can take its rightful place in the community of nations. I will continue to press countries around the world to recognize Kosova as another step toward stability in the Balkans and to see that the United States government provides all of the support Kosova needs.

Latin America and the Caribbean

I formerly served as the Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. The Subcommittee oversees U.S. policy toward Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada, and deals with a broad range of issues – from seeking innovative ways to reduce poverty in Haiti and throughout the Caribbean to crafting policies that curb drug-related violence in Mexico.

President Obama’s policy toward Latin America and the Caribbean is proving to be a win-win for the United States and our friends across the region. It has been a pleasure to join President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as we have engaged our partners in the region. I led the official US Congressional Delegation to the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago in April, 2009 where President Obama and all of the leaders in the Western Hemisphere met. At the Summit, the President pledged that “the United States will be there as a friend and a partner, because our futures are inextricably bound to the future of the people of the entire hemisphere.”  Building on the success in Trinidad, Secretary of State Clinton asked me to travel with her to the meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Honduras, where the nations of the region discussed efforts to halt the increase in violence stemming from gangs and drug crime. 

Poverty and inequality remain the biggest unaddressed problems in Latin America and the Caribbean, and are at the core of many political developments in the region. Almost 209 million people, some 40% of the region's people, live in poverty. In order to curb anti-Americanism and have a real impact in reducing poverty and inequality, we must take concrete actions, including increasing U.S. assistance to the region. Such actions demonstrate to our friends to the south that the United States sees them as important partners. In particular, I believe that the United States must do much more to help reduce poverty in Haiti. In the past, I have worked with my colleagues to increase funding for Haiti following various devastations, and I worked with my colleagues and the President to grant Haitians Temporary Protected Status (TPS) following the devastating 2010 earthquake . We must continue to do more to help our friends in Haiti to prepare for the next disaster, while also assisting the island to reduce poverty and create jobs.

As a friend and partner, I believe that there is a great deal that can be done here at home to help our neighbors in the Americas halt drug-related violence. For example, as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, I worked to ensure that the United States does more to curb the illegal flow of firearms from the United States into Mexico. In 2008, 93% of the weapons recovered in Mexico were traced back to the United States. This "iron river of guns" – a term coined by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) – has armed and emboldened a dangerous criminal element in Mexico, and it has made the brutal work of the drug cartels even more deadly. Clearly, much more needs to be done to combat the illegal trafficking of weapons to Mexico. And, it is important to note that this is not just an issue for Mexico. Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding told me that over 90% of the weapons recovered in his country also originate from the United States.

As the Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I will continue to seek improved relations with our neighbors in the Americas while supporting actions we can take here at home that will positively impact Latin America and the Caribbean.