Mel Watt on Foreign Policy
Democratic Representative (NC-12)
Part of delegation to Cuba that met with Fidel Castro
The Congressional Black Caucus delegation visiting Cuba this time [after the first in 1999] is led by Barbara Lee (CA). I had the honor of meeting her personally and admire her combative spirit and capacity for struggle.
The group she is leading is
made up of 7 members of Congress. The other members of the delegation are: Mel Watt (NC); Mike Honda (CA); Laura Richardson (CA); Bobby Rush (IL); Marcia Fudge (OH); and Emanuel Cleaver (MO).
I highly appreciate the gesture of this group of lawmakers.
Among the visitors there are opinions which are shared by all; other are personal points of view. In general, they believe that 68% of US public opinion favors a change in policy toward Cuba. One of them expressed the view that it was necessary
to take advantage of this historic moment, when the presence of a black president in the White House coincides with current opinion that favors the normalization of relations.
Source: Obama and the Empire, by Fidel Castro, p. 39-41
, Apr 6, 2009
Voted YES on supporting democratic institutions in Pakistan.
Congressional Summary:Pakistan Enduring Assistance and Cooperation Enhancement Act (PEACE Act): Authorizes the President to provide assistance for Pakistan to support democratic institutions; economic development; human rights; health care; and public diplomacy.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. IKE SKELTON (D, MO-4): Pakistan is important to the Middle East and our intentions there. Their cooperation, of course, is so very, very important. This legislation gives economic and democratic development assistance to that country.
Rep. HOWARD BERMAN (D, CA-28): We can't allow al Qaeda or any other terrorist group that threatens our national security to operate with impunity in the tribal regions or any other part of Pakistan. Nor can we permit the Pakistani state and its nuclear arsenal to be taken over by the Taliban.
To help prevent this nightmare scenario, we need to forge a true strategic partnership with Pakistan and its people, strengthen Pakistan's democrat government, and work to make Pakistan a source of stability in a volatile region.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN (R, FL-18): This bill focuses on past actions and failures attributed to the Pakistani Government, punishing the new leadership for the sins of its predecessors. While the authors of H.R. 1886 may have sought to empower our Pakistani partners to undertake the formidable task of fighting and winning against violent extremists, it does the opposite. We have gone down this road before. I recall during the Iraq debate, Members sought to prejudge the surge strategy before it could even be implemented. Let us hope that this will not be repeated with respect to Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Reference: The PEACE Act;
; vote number 2009-H333
on Jun 11, 2009
Voted YES on cooperating with India as a nuclear power.
Congressional Summary:US-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Nonproliferation Enhancement Act:
- Approves the US-India Agreement for Cooperation on Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy.
- Declares that it is US policy to prevent the transfer to India of nuclear equipment, materials, or technology from other participating governments in the Nuclear Suppliers Group or from any other source; and
- any nuclear power reactor fuel reserve provided to India for use in safeguarded civilian nuclear facilities should be commensurate with reasonable reactor operating requirements.
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;
; vote number 2008-H662
on Sep 27, 2008
Voted NO on deterring foreign arms transfers to China.
To authorize measures to deter arms transfers by foreign countries to the People's Republic of China, A YES vote would grant the President the ability to place sanctions on any individual or country that violates the arms embargo, including:
Reference: East Asia Security Act;
Bill HR 3100
; vote number 2005-374
on Jul 14, 2005
- Denial of participation in cooperative research and development
- Prohibition of ownership and control of any business registered as a manufacturer or exporter of defense articles or services
- Removal of all licenses relative to dual-use goods or technology
- Prohibition of participation of any foreign military sales
Voted NO on reforming the UN by restricting US funding.
To reform the United Nations, by limiting the US contribution to the UN by up to one-half by the year 2007, if the following reforms are not made:
Reference: United Nations Reform Act;
Bill HR 2745
; vote number 2005-282
on Jun 17, 2005
- Requires the creation of an Independent Oversight Board with the authority to evaluate all operations of the UN
- Instructs the UN to implement procedures to protect whistle-blowers, individuals who reveal wrongdoings within an organization to the public or to those in positions of authority
- Obliges the creation of a uniform code of conduct for all UN officials
- Requires the shifting of the funding mechanisms of certain organizational programs from the regular assessed UN budget to voluntarily funded programs
- Compels the US President to influence the Secretary General of the UN to waive diplomatic immunity for UN officials under investigation or charged with serious criminal offences
- Creates a certification of UN cooperation to provide documentary evidence to member states investigating the Oil-for-Food program
Voted YES 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 NO 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 YES 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 NO 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
Allow Americans to travel to Cuba.
Watt co-sponsored allowing Americans to travel to Cuba
OnTheIssues.org explanation: The US government has forbidden US citizens from traveling to Cuba since the 1960s. Try booking a trip from Mexico City to Havana on travelocity.com (or any travel website) and it says, "Due to a U.S. government travel restriction we are unable to book this reservation." You can, however, purchase that same ticket while in Mexico City, or anywhere else in the world. Sanford's bill attempts to undo this long-standing situation.
OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY:
- Prohibits the President from regulating or prohibiting, directly or indirectly, travel to or from Cuba by US citizens, or any of specified transactions incident to such travel.
- Declares that this prohibition does not authorize the importation into the US of any goods for personal consumption acquired in Cuba; &
- The restrictions on the President's authority do not apply in a case in which the US is at war with Cuba.
EXCERPTS FROM BILL:
- FREEDOM OF TRAVEL FOR U.S. CITIZENS AND LEGAL RESIDENTS: The President shall not regulate or prohibit travel to or from Cuba by US citizens or legal residents.
- TRANSACTIONS INCIDENT TO TRAVEL: The President shall not regulate any transactions ordinarily incident to travel to or from Cuba, including the importation into Cuba or the US of accompanied baggage; the payment of living expenses; or facilitation of travel to, from, or within Cuba.
- EXCEPTION: The restrictions on authority contained in section 1 do not apply in a case in which the US is at war with Cuba, armed hostilities between the two countries are in progress, or there is imminent danger to the public health or the physical safety of United States travelers.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME: Referred to the House Committee on the Western Hemisphere; never called for a House vote.
Source: Cuba travel bill (H.R.4471) 00-HR4471 on May 16, 2000
Member of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus.
Watt is a member of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus
The Congressional Human Rights Caucus (CHRC) is a bipartisan group of Members of Congress in the United States House of Representatives that works to raise awareness about and combat human rights abuses throughout the world.
The caucus keeps members and their staff informed of opportunities to help through briefings on human rights topics and letter initiatives.
Source: Congressional Caucus Web site 01-CHRC0 on Jan 8, 2001
Multi-year commitment to Africa for food & medicine.
Watt co-sponsored the Hunger to Harvest bill:
In an effort to reduce hunger in sub-Saharan Africa, urges the President to:
Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HCR102 on Apr 4, 2001
- set forth five-year and ten-year strategies to achieve a reversal of current levels of hunger and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, including a commitment to contribute an appropriate U.S. share of increased bilateral and multilateral poverty-focused resources for sub-Saharan Africa, with an emphasis on health (including HIV-AIDS prevention and treatment), education, agriculture, private sector and free market development, democratic institutions and the rule of law, micro-finance development, and debt relief;
- work with the heads of other donor countries and sub-Saharan African countries and with private and voluntary organizations and other civic organizations to implement such strategies; and calls for
- Congress to undertake a multi-year commitment to provide the resources to implement those strategies; and
- the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development to report on such implementation.
Rated +1 by AAI, indicating a mixed Arab/Palestine voting record.
Watt 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. For the House, we included 15 items: two bills on the Arab Spring, five bills and one letter on Palestine, two bills on Lebanon, three bills and a letter regarding civil liberties, and two bills on immigration.
Source: AAI website 12-AAI-H on May 2, 2012
- H.Res. 88 (+): supporting democratic aspirations in Egypt
- H.R. 2643 (+): penalizing the Bahraini government for attacking medical personnel
- H.R. 1006 (-): the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act
- H.R. 1501 (-): withholding US contributions until the UN retracts accusations of Israeli war crimes.
- H.Res. 268 (-): opposing any unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state
- H.R. 2457 (-): prohibiting any US government document from referring to "Palestine"
- H.R. 2829 (-): defunding the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees. The bill's 141 co-sponsors receive a (-).
- 8. (+).
Rep. David Price (D-NC) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) issued a letter titled "Support Palestinian Aid and Israel's Security," in which they call upon Congress to continue aid to the Palestinian Authority.
- H.R. 2215 (*) "to ensure that United States taxpayer dollars are not used to fund terrorist entities in Lebanon
- H.R. 996 (+): to raise awareness of the use of cluster munitions where civilians are present
- H.R. 140 (-): the "Birthright Citizenship Act, to eliminate "anchor babies" by changing the 14th Amendment.
- H. Res. 283 (+): to counter violence and discrimination against Muslim, Arab, Sikh, and South Asian communities
- H.R. 1805 (-): authorizing an extension of the USA PATRIOT Act until 2013, and amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)
- H.R. 1842 (+): the DREAM Act to protect undocumented minors pursuing higher education.
- H.R. 1932 (-): the Keep our Communities Safe Act for greater power to detain undocumented immigrants.
Acknowledge the Armenian Genocide of the early 1900s.
Watt co-sponsored acknowledging the Armenian Genocide of the early 1900s
Sen. DURBIN: The definition of "genocide" is "the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group." Scholars agree that what the Armenian people suffered in 1915 to 1917 fits the definition of genocide. To date, 19 countries and 37 US states recognize the Armenian Genocide. Genocide is wrong. It is evil. It is evil whether its victims are Armenians, Sudanese, Rwandan Tutsis, Cambodians or European Jews. Not to acknowledge genocide for what it is denigrates the memory of its victims. Recognition of genocide is part of the healing process. Official recognition will reaffirm our tradition of protecting the vulnerable and inspire us to not stand by and watch as genocide occurs in our time.
Source: Armenian Genocide Resolution (S.RES.106/H.RES.106) 2007-SR106 on Mar 14, 2007
- WHEREAS the Armenian Genocide was conceived and carried out by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923, resulting in the deportation of nearly 2,000,000 Armenians, of whom 1,500,000 men, women, and children were killed, and which succeeded in the elimination of more than 2,500-year presence of Armenians in their historic homeland;
- WHEREAS, on May 24, 1915, the Allied Powers issued the joint statement of England, France, and Russia that explicitly charged, for the first time ever, another government of committing "a crime against humanity";
- WHEREAS, despite the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide, the failure of the domestic and international authorities to punish those responsible for the Armenian Genocide is a reason why similar genocides have recurred and may recur in the future, and that a just resolution will help prevent future genocides:
- NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Senate calls on the President, in the
President's annual message commemorating the Armenian Genocide, to accurately characterize the systematic annihilation of 1,500,000 Armenians as genocide and to recall the proud history of US intervention in opposition to the Armenian Genocide.
Sanction Mugabe until Zimbabwe transitions to democracy.
Watt co-sponsored sanctioning Mugabe until Zimbabwe transitions to democracy
A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate regarding the political situation in Zimbabwe. Expresses the sense of the Senate:
Source: S.RES.533&H.RES.1230 2008-SR533 on Apr 24, 2008
- supporting the people of Zimbabwe;
- that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission should immediately release the legitimate results of the presidential election and ratify the previously announced results of the parliamentary elections;
- that President Robert Mugabe should accept the will of the people of Zimbabwe in order to effect a timely and peaceful transition to democratic rule;
- that the U.S. government and the international community should impose targeted sanctions against individuals in the government of
Zimbabwe and state security services and militias who are responsible for human rights abuses and election interference;
- that the U.S. government and the international community should work together to prepare an economic and political recovery package for Zimbabwe;
- that regional organizations should play an active role in resolving the crisis; and
- that the U.N. Security Council should support efforts to bring about a peaceful resolution of the crisis and impose an international arms embargo on Zimbabwe until a legitimate democratic government has taken power.
Allow travel between the United States and Cuba.
Watt signed Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act
Prohibits the President from regulating or prohibiting travel to or from Cuba by U.S. citizens or legal residents or any of the transactions ordinarily incident to such travel, except in time of war or armed hostilities between the United States and Cuba, or of imminent danger to the public health or the physical safety of U.S. travelers.
Source: S.428&HR.874 2009-S428 on Feb 12, 2009
Page last updated: Feb 25, 2016