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Bill Nelson on Foreign Policy

Democratic Sr Senator (FL)


Keep the Cuban embargo, but let family members travel

On Cuba policy, Mack said any loosening of the U.S. embargo would "pad the pockets of the Castro brothers.'' The embargo will be lifted when the country has free, Democratic elections, free speech and releases political prisoners, he said.

Nelson said the embargo shouldn't be lifted, but that family members should be allowed to travel and take remittances with them.

Source: Sun-Sentinel coverage of 2012 Florida Senate debate , Oct 16, 2012

Diplomacy first with N.Korea; keep military option on table

Q: How far are you willing to go to confront North Korea?

NELSON: The US has got to do everything possible to stop the continued nuclear program, through diplomacy particularly via China and South Korea. North Korea doesn’t have a missile that is a threat to us at this point, but they can peddle those nuclear weapons. You put that in the hands of terrorist groups, and we have a whole new destabilization of the world. So at the end of the day the US has got to be successful.

HARRIS: Clearly, nuclear North Korea would be a danger to us. We will not negotiate bilaterally with terrorists. The former administration did so, and it was a failed strategy.

Q: At what point should we consider a military option?

NELSON: We don’t want to have to use that option, because they have a million-man army. You do want to keep it on the table.

HARRIS: If the sanctions fail and none of the economic issue work, the final military option would be at stake.

Source: FL 2006 Senate Debate moderated by PBS’ Linda O’Brien , Oct 23, 2006

Get State Dept. to do more for Holocaust victims

At the urging of Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, Colin Powell, nominee for secretary of state, said today he’ll “immediately look at the welfare” of the government’s office for aiding Holocaust victims if confirmed to head the State Department.

“We dragged them kicking and screaming to set up a Holocaust commission,” Nelson said of his and the efforts of an international task force to recover from big insurers unpaid World War II-era policies. “And there was a lot more than just insurance still owed to victims.”

In fact, jewelry, art and other property plundered by Nazi Germany weren’t returned to Holocaust victims, a presidential commission reported this week. The report was part of an unprecedented half-decade campaign to re-examine what happened in the Holocaust, and recalculate what’s owed to survivors.

Source: Press Release, “Holocaust Office” , Jan 17, 2001

Voted YES on cooperating with India as a nuclear power.

Congressional Summary:US-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Nonproliferation Enhancement Act:

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. HOWARD BERMAN (D, CA-28): Integrating India into a global nonproliferation regime is a positive step. Before anyone gets too sanctimonious about India's nuclear weapons program, we should acknowledge that the five recognized nuclear weapons states have not done nearly enough to fulfill their commitments under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, including making serious reductions in their own arsenals, nor in the case of the US in ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. BARBARA LEE (D, CA-9): In withholding my approval, I seek not to penalize the people of India but, rather, to affirm the principle of nuclear nonproliferation. Jettisoning adherence to the international nuclear nonproliferation framework that has served the world so well for more than 30 years, as approval of the agreement before us would do, is just simply unwise. It is also reckless.

Approval of this agreement undermines our efforts to dissuade countries like Iran and North Korea from developing nuclear weapons. By approving this agreement, all we are doing is creating incentives for other countries to withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Reference: US-India Nuclear Agreement; Bill HR.7081 ; vote number 2008-S211 on Oct 1, 2008

Voted YES on enlarging NATO to include Eastern Europe.

H.R. 3167; Gerald B. H. Solomon Freedom Consolidation Act of 2001, To endorse the vision of further enlargement of the NATO Alliance. Vote to pass a bill that would support further expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, authorize military assistance to several eastern European countries and lift assistance restrictions on Slovakia.
Reference: Bill HR.3167 ; vote number 2002-116 on May 17, 2002

Progressive Internationalism: globalize with US pre-eminence.

Nelson adopted the manifesto, "A New Agenda for the New Decade":

Build a Public Consensus Supporting US Global Leadership
The internationalist outlook that served America and the world so well during the second half of the 20th century is under attack from both ends of the political spectrum. As the left has gravitated toward protectionism, many on the right have reverted to “America First” isolationism.

Our leaders should articulate a progressive internationalism based on the new realities of the Information Age: globalization, democracy, American pre-eminence, and the rise of a new array of threats ranging from regional and ethnic conflicts to the spread of missiles and biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons. This approach recognizes the need to revamp, while continuing to rely on, multilateral alliances that advance U.S. values and interests.

A strong, technologically superior defense is the foundation for US global leadership. Yet the US continues to employ defense strategies, military missions, and force structures left over from the Cold War, creating a defense establishment that is ill-prepared to meet new threats to our security. The US must speed up the “revolution in military affairs” that uses our technological advantage to project force in many different contingencies involving uncertain and rapidly changing security threats -- including terrorism and information warfare.

Source: The Hyde Park Declaration 00-DLC12 on Aug 1, 2000

Impose sanctions and an import ban on Burma.

Nelson co-sponsored imposing sanctions and an import ban on Burma

A bill to impose sanctions on officials of the State Peace and Development Council in Burma, to prohibit the importation of gemstones and hardwoods from Burma, & to promote a coordinated international effort to restore civilian democratic rule to Burma.

(The two Senate versions currently differ in wording). The Saffron Revolution Support Act states that it is U.S. policy to:

  1. support the democratic aspirations of Burma's people;
  2. condemn the repression carried out by the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC); and
  3. hold accountable individuals responsible for the repression of peaceful political activity in Burma.
Directs the President to submit to the appropriate congressional committees a list of:
  1. SPDC officials who play or have played a substantial role in political repression in Burma or in the commission of human rights abuses;
  2. Subjects persons so identified to U.S. entry prohibition and financial sanctions.
  3. Amends the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003 to prohibit the importation into the US of Burmese gems, teak, or other hardwood timber.
  4. Prohibits any U.S. person or corporation from investing in Burma.

Introductory statement by Sponsor:

Sen. McCAIN. The world has reacted with horror and revulsion at the Burmese junta's recent brutal crackdown against peaceful demonstrators. In crushing the Saffron Revolution, killing hundreds and jailing thousands, including countless Buddhist monks, the junta has left no doubt about its blatant disregard for basic human decency. We, as Americans, stand on the side of freedom, not fear; of peace, not violence; and of the millions in Burma who aspire to a better life, not those who would keep them isolated and oppressed. Our response must go beyond statements of condemnation, and the time to act is now. This legislation imposes meaningful and effective punitive action against the cruel, thuggish, and illegitimate Burmese government.

Source: Burma Democracy Promotion Act (S.2257 & S.2172) 07-S2257 on Oct 29, 2007

Rated 0 by AAI, indicating a mixed Arab/Palestine voting record.

Nelson scores 0 by AAI on Arab-Israeli issues

The Arab American Institute has compiled a Scorecard to catalogue the voting record of the 112th Congress on issues of importance to the Arab American community. Though not comprehensive, we have attempted to provide a snapshot of legislation concerning many of the primary issues concerning Arab Americans. For the Senate, we have included 10 items: two bills on the Arab Spring, three on Palestine, one on Lebanon, one regarding civil liberties, and two for immigration reform.

  1. S. Res. 44: (+) calls on former President Hosni Mubarak to immediately begin a peaceful transition to a democratic political system
  2. S. Res. 109: (+) honoring and supporting women in North Africa and the Middle East
  3. S. Res. 138: (-) calling on the United Nations to rescind the Goldstone report, formally known as the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, which accused the Israeli government of targeting Palestinian civilians.
  4. S. Res. 185: (-) reaffirming the commitment of the US to a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and calling for a US veto of any UN resolution on Palestinian statehood without a settlement.
  5. S. Con. Res. 23: (-) supporting Israel in maintaining defensible borders, and against Israel returning to the armistice lines that existed on June 4, 1967
  6. S. 558: (+) the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act, to limit the use of cluster munitions in areas normally inhabited by civilians.
  7. S. 1125: (+) greater judicial review of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and greater protections to individuals being monitored or gag-ordered by the FBI.
  8. S.1038, the PATRIOT Sunsets Extension Act, in opposition of PATRIOT Act extension.
  9. S. 723: (-) The Birthright Citizenship Act, limiting citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants born in the US.
  10. S. 952: (+) the DREAM Act, allowing undocumented minors to become US citizens, provided they meet certain conditions, including good moral character
Source: AAI website 12-AAI-S on May 2, 2012

Vigorous support for State of Israel against Hamas in Gaza.

Nelson co-sponsored Resolution for Israeli Self-Defense

RESOLUTION expressing vigorous support and unwavering commitment to the welfare, security, and survival of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state with secure borders:

    Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the Congress:
  1. expresses unwavering commitment to the security of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state with secure borders, and recognizes and strongly supports its inherent right to act in self-defense to protect its citizens against acts of terrorism;
  2. reiterates that Hamas must end Gaza-linked terrorist rocket and missile attacks against Israel, recognize Israel's right to exist, renounce violence, and agree to accept previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinians;
  3. urges the UN Security Council to condemn the recent spike in Gaza-linked terrorist missile attacks against Israel, which risk causing civilian casualties in both Israel and Gaza; and
  4. encourages the President to continue to work diplomatically with the international community to prevent Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorist organizations from retaining or rebuilding the capability to launch rockets and missiles against Israel.
Source: SR599/HR813 12-SRes599 on Nov 16, 2012

Sponsored funding and supplying the Syrian rebels.

Nelson co-sponsored Free Syria Act

Congressional Summary:

Proponent's argument for bill:(by United Free Syria organization): House of Representatives: Free Syria Act (HR.1327):

The House bill would set up a framework under which the Obama administration could deploy anti-aircraft systems to help the rebels fight off the Syrian regime's attacks from above, and assist a post-Assad transition by using sanctions relief and loans from international financial institutions to support a new transitional government. "We believe there are credible options at your disposal, including limited military options, that would require neither putting US troops on the ground nor acting unilaterally," Sens. Levin and McCain wrote. "First, we urge you to lead an effort, together with our friends and allies, to degrade the Assad regime's airpower and to support Turkey if they are willing to establish a safe zone inside of Syria's northern border."
Source: S.617 / H.R.1327 13-S617 on Mar 21, 2013

Urge Venezuela to re-open dissident radio & TV stations.

Nelson co-sponsored urging Venezuela to re-open dissident radio & TV stations

Source: Radio Caracas Resolution (S.RES.211) 2007-SR211 on May 21, 2007

Pressure friendly Arab states to end Israeli boycott.

Nelson signed Schumer-Graham letter to Secy. Rice from 79 Congress members

    Dear Secretary Rice,
    In the past, the lack of sufficient support from [non-participating] Arab states have made it difficult to reach agreements [on the Arab-Israeli conflict]. You should press friendly Arab countries that have not yet done so, to:
  1. Participate in the upcoming international meeting and be a full partner of the US in advancing regional peace
  2. Take visible, meaningful steps in the financial, diplomatic and political arena to help Palestinian President Abbas govern effectively and meet obligations to fight terror
  3. Stop support for terrorist groups and cease all anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incitement
  4. Recognize Israel's right to exist and not use such recognition as a bargaining chip for future Israeli concessions
  5. End the Arab League economic boycott of Israel in all of its forms
  6. Pressure Hamas to recognize Israel, reject terror, and accept prior agreements, and isolate Hamas until it takes such steps.
Source: Schumer-Graham letter to Secy. Rice from 79 Congress members 2010-LT-AR on Oct 2, 2007

Other candidates on Foreign Policy: Bill Nelson on other issues:
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Senate races Nov. 2014:
AK: Begich(D) vs.Miller(R) vs.Treadwell(R) vs.Sullivan(R)
AL: Sessions(R,unopposed)
AR: Pryor(D) vs.Cotton(R)
CO: Udall(D) vs.Gardner(R) vs.Baumgardner(R) vs.Buck(R) vs.Hill(R) vs.Stephens(R)
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Page last updated: Aug 04, 2014