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Joseph Pitts on Foreign Policy

Republican Representative (PA-16)


Voted NO 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; Bill H.R.1886 ; vote number 2009-H333 on Jun 11, 2009

Voted NO 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-H662 on Sep 27, 2008

Voted YES 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

Voted YES 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

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 NO 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

Member of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus.

Pitts 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

Ban foreign aid to oil-producers who restrict production.

Pitts co-sponsored an amendment to the International Financial Institutions Act:

Title: To direct the International Monetary Fund to oppose any new loan to any country that is acting to restrict oil production to the detriment of the United States economy, except in emergency circumstances.

Summary: Amends the International Financial Institutions Act to direct the U.S. Executive Director at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to use the U.S. voice, vote, and influence to oppose any new IMF loan to any country which the Secretary of Energy determines is a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and is acting to restrict oil production to the detriment of the U.S. economy, or is acting in concert with OPEC to do so, unless the provision of the loan is necessary to address a systemic risk to the international financial system.

Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HR1688 on May 2, 2001

Rated -4 by AAI, indicating a anti-Arab anti-Palestine voting record.

Pitts scores -4 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.

  1. H.Res. 88 (+): supporting democratic aspirations in Egypt
  2. H.R. 2643 (+): penalizing the Bahraini government for attacking medical personnel
  3. H.R. 1006 (-): the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act
  4. H.R. 1501 (-): withholding US contributions until the UN retracts accusations of Israeli war crimes.
  5. H.Res. 268 (-): opposing any unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state
  6. H.R. 2457 (-): prohibiting any US government document from referring to "Palestine"
  7. H.R. 2829 (-): defunding the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees. The bill's 141 co-sponsors receive a (-).
  8. 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.
  9. H.R. 2215 (*) "to ensure that United States taxpayer dollars are not used to fund terrorist entities in Lebanon
  10. H.R. 996 (+): to raise awareness of the use of cluster munitions where civilians are present
  11. H.R. 140 (-): the "Birthright Citizenship Act, to eliminate "anchor babies" by changing the 14th Amendment.
  12. H. Res. 283 (+): to counter violence and discrimination against Muslim, Arab, Sikh, and South Asian communities
  13. H.R. 1805 (-): authorizing an extension of the USA PATRIOT Act until 2013, and amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)
  14. H.R. 1842 (+): the DREAM Act to protect undocumented minors pursuing higher education.
  15. H.R. 1932 (-): the Keep our Communities Safe Act for greater power to detain undocumented immigrants.
Source: AAI website 12-AAI-H on May 2, 2012

Acknowledge the Armenian Genocide of the early 1900s.

Pitts 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

Support Iranian demonstrators against Iranian government.

Pitts signed bill supporting demonstrations against Iran

Source: SR.193&HR.549 2009-SR193 on Jun 19, 2009

Condemn Iran for state-sponsored persecution of Baha'i.

Pitts signed bill condemning Iran for persecution of Baha'i

    Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the Senate and House of Representatives
  1. condemns the Government of Iran for its state-sponsored persecution of its Baha'i minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights;
  2. calls on the Government of Iran to immediately release the seven leaders and all other prisoners held solely on account of their religion; and
  3. calls on the President and Secretary of State, in cooperation with the international community, to immediately condemn Iran's continued violation of human rights.
    Source: SR71&HR175 2009-SR71 on Feb 13, 2009

    Commitment to unbreakable U.S.-Israel bond.

    Pitts signed Hoyer-Cantor letter to Secy. Clinton from 327 House members

    Dear Secretary Clinton:

    We are writing to reaffirm our commitment to the unbreakable bond that exists between our country and the State of Israel and to express to you our deep concern over recent tension. In every important relationship, there will be occasional misunderstandings and conflicts.

    Our valuable bilateral relationship with Israel needs and deserves constant reinforcement. As the Vice-President said during his recent visit to Israel: "Progress occurs in the Middle East when everyone knows there is simply no space between the U.S. and Israel when it comes to security, none. No space." Steadfast American backing has helped lead to Israeli peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan. And American involvement continues to be critical to the effort to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

    We recognize that, despite the extraordinary closeness between our country and Israel, there will be differences over issues both large and small. Our view is that such differences are best resolved quietly, in trust and confidence, as befits longstanding strategic allies. We hope and expect that, with mutual effort and good faith, the United States and Israel will move beyond this disruption quickly, to the lasting benefit of both nations.

    Source: Hoyer-Cantor letter to Secy. Clinton from 327 House members 2010-LT-UB on Mar 25, 2010

    2012 Governor, House and Senate candidates on Foreign Policy: Joseph Pitts on other issues:
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    Page last updated: Jul 20, 2014