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Rob Portman on Foreign Policy

Republican Jr Senator; previously Representative (OH-2)

 


Tighten visa waiver programs but respect opinion abroad

Q: On [Trump's Muslim ban] executive order, Senator Ben Sasse said, "While not technically a Muslim ban, this order is too broad." Do you agree?

PORTMAN: I agree with both of those aspects. One, it is not a ban. However, I think it was not properly vetted. And as the result, in the implementation, we've seen some problems.

Q: And what do you think should be done now?

PORTMAN: I think we just slow down. Let's make two points. One, our country is not as safe as it should be. There's not adequate screening, particularly on our visa waiver programs. We need to tighten things up. And I think there's a general consensus about that. But, second, we've got to do it in a way that is consistent with our values and consistent with our national security. And we are this beacon of hope and opportunity for the rest of the world. That's our self-image. It's also an important part of our foreign policy. So, we have got to do it in a way that makes sense.

Source: CNN "State of the Union" 2017 interview by Jake Tapper , Jan 29, 2017

Keep sanctions on Russia for taking Crimea & east Ukraine

Q: On Russia: President Trump may lift sanctions on Russia. You oppose that. Will you re-impose them legislatively?

PORTMAN: I'm a co-sponsor of legislation to do just that: let's ensure these are codified, in other words, not something that a president could change, because Russia has clearly violated international law. Their dangerous acts, including taking of Crimea, and what they're doing even today on the eastern border of Ukraine, are the reason for these sanctions. To relieve these sanctions without getting at that underlying cause would be a huge mistake, by the way, a huge mistake for American foreign policy, too, setting a precedent that, when sanctions are put in place, they can be relieved perhaps for other reasons. So, I would strongly urge the administration not to move forward with removing those sanctions, until the reasons those sanctions were put in place are resolved.

Source: CNN "State of the Union" 2017 interview by Jake Tapper , Jan 29, 2017

China’s entry into WTO makes China play by the rules

China’s entry into the WTO was, and remains, in the best interests of the US. It brought China into a rules-based system, which is very important. It also allowed us to significantly expand US exports, good and services. But our trade relationship with China also presents challenges. We face a trade deficit that is too high, in part because the Chinese do not always play by the rules. I have already begun a top-to-bottom review of China trade issues, to see that Americans are treated fairly.
Source: Comments at USTR Ceremony , May 17, 2005

Trade spreads economic and political freedom

The day after I was confirmed as US Trade Representative, [President Bush] sent me on a plane for Europe where I met with trade ministers from all around the world. And there, I worked with our trade partners to rejuvenate the ongoing global negotiations called the Doha Development Agenda. By reducing barriers to trade across the board, Doha has the potential to substantially expand U.S. exports and also to spread hope and opportunity to the developing world. And when we were in Europe 10 days ago, we were able to make a major breakthrough to be sure that that Doha Development Agenda continues on track.

Doha talks are one part of a more comprehensive trade agenda that I will pursue, as the President has laid out: First, to expand export opportunities by opening markets around the world; second, to be sure that we are enforcing our trade agreements and our trade laws; and third, to spread economic and political freedom.

Source: Comments at USTR Ceremony , May 17, 2005

Voted NO on keeping Cuba travel ban until political prisoners released.

Stop enforcing travel restrictions on US citizens to Cuba, only after the president has certified that Cuba has released all political prisoners, and extradited all individuals sought by the US on charges of air piracy, drug trafficking and murder.
Bill HR 2590 ; vote number 2001-270 on Jul 25, 2001

Voted YES on withholding $244M in UN Back Payments until US seat restored.

Vote to adopt an amendment that would require that the United States be restored to its seat on the UN Human Rights Commission before the payment of $244 million in funds already designated to pay UN back dues.
Reference: Amendment sponsored by Hyde, R-IL; Bill HR 1646 ; vote number 2001-107 on May 10, 2001

Voted NO on $156M to IMF for 3rd-world debt reduction.

Vote on an amendment that would transfer $156 million from foreign military financing to the Highly Indebted Poor Countries [HIPC] Trust Fund. The HIPC Trust fund is designed to help debtor countries pay off the money they owe to multilateral agencies such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
Reference: Amendment sponsored by Waters, D-CA; Bill HR 4811 ; vote number 2000-397 on Jul 13, 2000

Voted YES on Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China.

Vote to give permanent Normal Trade Relations [NTR] status to China. Currently, NTR status for China is debated and voted on annually. The measure contains provisions designed to protect the United States from Chinese import surges and the administration would have to report annually on China's compliance with the trade agreement. The bill establishes a commission to monitor human rights, labor standards and religious freedom in China.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Archer, R-TX; Bill HR 4444 ; vote number 2000-228 on May 24, 2000

Voted YES on $15.2 billion for foreign operations.

Vote on a bill to provide $15.2 billion for foreign operations in FY 2000. Among other provisions, the bill would provide $1.82 billion over three years for implementation of the Wye River peace accord in the Middle East. In addition, the measure would provide $123 million in multilateral debt relief and would contribute $25 million to the United National Population Fund.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Callahan, R-AL; Bill HR 3196 ; vote number 1999-572 on Nov 5, 1999

Rated -1 by AAI, indicating a mixed Arab/Palestine voting record.

Portman scores -1 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.

Portman 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

Disallow Palestine from joining ICC to threaten Israel.

Portman signed disallowing Palestine from joining ICC to threaten Israel

Excerpts from Letter from 73 Senators to Secretary of State Kerry We are deeply concerned by the decision of the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to seek membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC), because the Palestinian Authority is not a state and its express intent is to use this process to threaten Israel.

Pres. Abbas' effort contravene the spirit of earlier agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and erodes the prospect for peace. Therefore, the US must make clear that joining the ICC is not a legitimate or viable path for Palestinians.

Israel is a major strategic partner of the US and is facing increasing pressure from those who seek to delegitimize its very existence. The only realistic and sustainable path to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Supporting argument: (Heritage Foundation, "U.S. Should Not Join the ICC," Aug. 18, 2009): The ICC prosecutor is exploring a request by the Palestinian National Authority to prosecute Israeli commanders for alleged war crimes committed during the recent actions in Gaza. Palestinian lawyers maintain that the Palestinian National Authority can request ICC jurisdiction as the de facto sovereign even though it is not an internationally recognized state. By countenancing Palestine's claims, the ICC prosecutor has enabled pressure to be applied to Israel over alleged war crimes, while ignoring Hamas's incitement of the military action and its commission of war crimes against Israeli civilians. Furthermore, by seemingly recognizing Palestine as a sovereign entity, the prosecutor's action has created a pathway for Palestinian statehood without first reaching a comprehensive peace deal with Israel. This determination is an inherently political issue beyond the ICC's authority.

Source: Palestinian Bid to ICC 14LTR-ICC on Jan 29, 2015

Two-state solution despite Israeli settlements on West Bank.

Portman signed two-state solution despite Israeli settlements on West Bank

Congressional Summary: S.Res.6/H.Res.11 objects to U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334, which characterizes Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as illegal and demands cessation of settlement activities.

Opposing argument: (Cato Institute, Dec. 19, 2003): In principle, separation seems the best answer to stop the killing. For this reason, a security fence makes sense--if it actually separates Jew from Arab. Unfortunately, to protect a number of disparate Israeli settlements erected in the midst of Palestinian communities, Israel currently is mixing Jew and Arab and separating Arab from Arab. Thus are sown the seeds for conflict. After 36 years of occupation, the land remains almost exclusively Arab. The limited Jewish presence is the result of conscious colonization. The settlements require a pervasive Israeli military occupation, imposing a de facto system of apartheid. Separation offers the only hope, but separation requires dismantling Israeli settlements.

Source: S.Res.6 & H.Res.11 17-SRes6 on Jan 3, 2017

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