National Defense and Foreign Affairs
Visiting our troops and Major General David Baldwin of the California National Guard.
We are living in an extraordinary time in world history. America remains the world’s dominant super power with the strongest economy and most powerful military. Many people around the globe are overcoming poverty and new economies and democracies are emerging. But while it is a time of promise, we are also facing serious and dangerous threats. Terrorism, the spread of nuclear weapons, and fallout from other countries that are being torn apart by civil war and strife are just a few of the major challenges we are up against. At the same time, our planet is becoming a much smaller and more interconnected place with new technologies and global commerce.
We need strong leadership to help navigate these challenges to put the interests of our nation and people first, not politics. That means not only being vigilant and relentless, but also strong and wise. We need to work together to give our military and intelligence agencies the tools they need to keep us safe, and also protect and defend the ideals that define us as the world’s greatest democracy.
Keeping Americans safe is my greatest responsibility as your representative in Congress. And as Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation, I’m proud to work regularly with people in both parties to strengthen America’s security and global leadership.
Here are some of the key ways I’m working to strengthen America’s security and global leadership:
- Defending Our Homeland Against Terrorism:
- Working with Both Parties in the Foreign Affairs Committee:
- Supporting our Military and Veterans:
- Standing with Israel and Preventing a Nuclear Iran:
- Fighting for Women’s Equality at Home and Abroad:
- Succeeding in the Global Economy:
- More on Strengthening America’s Security and Global Leadership
Listening to Major General Baldwin of the California National Guard, which plays a crucial role in responding to disasters and protecting our homeland.
Keeping Americans safe is my greatest responsibility as your representative in Congress. I know that many people are concerned about terrorist groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the threat that they pose to the United States. We have to be vigilant and relentless, but also strong and wise, as we move forward to defeat ISIL and other terrorist groups. That means all Americans standing together – regardless of party, ethnic background, or religion – united in our efforts to defeat the terrorists.
- Protecting our Security on the Foreign Affairs Committee: In the Foreign Affairs Committee, I’m working with both Republicans and Democrats to strengthen our efforts to destroy ISIL. Our response must include airstrikes, choking off ISIL’s finances, and using our counterintelligence agencies to weaken them. We must also ensure our partners in the region do their part to fight ISIL and take away more of their territory. You may click below to see me discuss this threat and how we can defeat ISIL at a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing:
- Preventing Terrorists from Coming to the United States: It's clear that the threat of terrorism is not isolated to one country or region. We need to do a better job of protecting our homeland to make sure terrorists can’t come to American and threaten our families.
This is why I supported bipartisan legislation to help ensure terrorists can’t abuse our immigrant visa process, which is now law. I’ve also supported bipartisan legislation to ensure we’re doing enough to stop radicalized Americans from traveling to Iraq and Syria to join ISIL, to make sure our terrorist watch list is up-to-date, and to prevent terrorist suspects from flying on American airplanes.
I’ve stood with both Republicans and Democrats to push for a bipartisan bill to increase international border security and stop travel by terrorists and foreign fighters. Our bill, which passed with nearly unanimous support, would help prevent international travel by terrorists and foreign fighters by establishing enforceable, minimum border security standards and by helping to improve border screening systems for our allies. You can watch me urge my colleagues to support our bill below:
- Securing Support for Local Police to Prevent and Respond to Terrorism: The Department of Homeland Security provides crucial funding and training help to police departments around the country. We need to ensure that our police in Sacramento County receive their fair share of help to keep our communities safe.
That’s why my office worked alongside the Sacramento Police Department to urge the Department of Homeland Security to include the Sacramento area in their Urban Area Security Initiative. This will mean nearly $3 million in additional funding to help the Sacramento Police Department prevent and respond to a possible terrorist attack in our area.
- Supporting a Strong Defense and Homeland Security Budget: We need to make sure that our troops, intelligence, security agencies, and law enforcement have all the resources and tools they need to keep us safe. That’s why I’ve worked with both parties to fund the Defense Department and the Department of Homeland Security to help keep our communities and families safe.
I also strongly opposed a reckless and short-sighted effort in 2015 to shut down the Department of Homeland Security because of a needless partisan political dispute. Threatening to shut down the Department of Homeland Security is the height of irresponsibility. That’s why I introduced the No Homeland Security, No Pay Act, so Members of Congress wouldn't get paid if the department shut down. If Congress can’t do its job and put the security of the American people before politics, then they certainly shouldn’t get paid during a crisis that they’re causing.
- Preventing Terrorist Suspects From Buying Guns: Today, a suspect on the FBI’s terrorist watch list can legally buy a gun. This is absolutely inexcusable and this dangerous loophole poses a serious threat to our families and communities. In fact, an independent investigation found that hundreds of suspected terrorists on the FBI watch list bought guns over the years.
This is why I’m strongly supporting the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act to close this loophole. I’ve voted repeatedly to bring up the legislation for consideration and will keep fighting to keep our communities safe.
- Stopping Radicalization and ISIL’s Propaganda: We also need to do more to stop and counter ISIL's vicious propaganda campaign that urges attacks on innocent people. ISIL increasingly uses the internet and social media to recruit new fighters and to radicalize people to carry out attacks.
I strongly support the bipartisan Combat Terrorist Use of Social Media Act. This bill requires the President to form a comprehensive strategy to address how terrorists use social media for recruitment and planning.
With my colleagues in the Foreign Affairs Committee, led by Republican Chairman Ed Royce from California.
We need strong leadership to help navigate the global challenges facing the United States and our allies. When it comes to America’s security and global leaderships, both Republicans and Democrats have an obligation to put the interests of our nation and people first, ahead of partisan politics. That’s why as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I’m proud to work regularly with people in both parties to help keep our country safe and to promote American interests abroad.
Together, we’re working to safeguard our nation from terrorism, promote American interests in Asia, address international human rights concerns such as human trafficking, and are working to make sure our businesses can export their products to create more jobs here at home.
Here are just a few crucial areas that we have been working on together:
- Afghanistan: I was honored to join with members of both parties on an official congressional visit to Afghanistan to receive a first-hand update on our mission there and to meet with our incredible service members. During my visit, I had the opportunity to meet with Afghan and U.S. officials to discuss the status of our troops, regional security concerns, and the role our strategic partners will play in the region as Afghanistan increasingly takes control over its own security. This visit offered the invaluable experience of hearing directly from both the leaders in Afghanistan and individual service members on the ground.
We are continuing to monitor our mission in Afghanistan to ensure our troops have what they need to do their jobs and stay safe. In one hearing, I questioned Secretary of State John Kerry on America's role in Afghanistan and how we can partner with Asian nations such as India to maintain stability. You can click to play a clip of the hearing below.
During my visit in Afghanistan, I had the privilege of meeting with service member Morgan Alcalay from Carmichael. I was gratified to later see that he came home safe when he visited my Washington, D.C. office.
- Opposing Russian Aggression and Supporting the People of Ukraine: In 2014, Russia alarmed the world with its hostile actions in Ukraine and by annexing the Crimean region into its territory. Russian backed separatists are continuing to fight the Ukranian military in the eastern part of the country.
Russia's aggression is a clear and unacceptable violation of Ukraine's sovereignty. We must support the right of the Ukrainian people to choose their own future free of intimidation and fear. That's why I’ve voted for legislation to support Ukraine and to impose sanctions on Russian officials, banks, and other state agencies. I also voted for a bipartisan government funding bill in December 2015 that includes funding to assist Ukraine’s military.
In the Foreign Affairs Committee, I have worked with my colleagues in both parties to shape America’s response. You can click below to play a clip of one committee hearing where my colleagues and I addressed the situation in Ukraine:
Addressing Chinese Provocations in the Asia Pacific: China has made provocative moves in the Asia Pacific region, threatening our interests and our allies. China unilaterally declared that large swaths of the South China Sea are under its control, at the expense of our allies. China has even constructed artificial islands to secure its grip on the region. In July of 2016, The Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague ruled that China’s territorial claims have no basis in international law.
China’s aggressive behavior is unacceptable and undermines peace and stability in the Asia Pacific. Given the importance of trade and transportation in the region, the United States must work to protect and enforce the right to freely navigate these contested areas and to defend international norms.
You may click below to see me address China’s moves in the Foreign Affairs Committee:
As a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I had the incredible honor and privilege of meeting with our troops in Afghanistan during an official congressional visit. They were among the most dedicated and talented people I’ve ever met and we must do whatever we can to support them.
As a doctor who’s helped care for our veterans, I’ve seen their sacrifices firsthand. Our men and women who have served and are serving in the military are among the most dedicated and talented in the world. Many of our service members and veterans have gone through multiple deployments, and all of them and their families have made many sacrifices. Americans should be proud and grateful for their service, and we must do everything we can to give them the support they need and deserve when they return home.
- Supporting our Men and Women in Uniform: Both parties should work together to provide our troops with the tools and resources they need to fulfill their mission and stay safe. That’s why I have voted for bipartisan legislation to fund our Defense Department, provide our service members with the best equipment, and to care for our troops. In December 2015, I voted for a bipartisan government funding bill that included a pay raise for our troops and blocked a proposal to require our service members to pay more for their health care.
At the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Mather Veterans Village, which is providing housing for homeless and disabled Veterans. I was proud to work with community leaders to help make this project a reality.
- Serving Local Heroes: Sacramento County is home to many veterans and men and women currently serving in uniform. We must do a better job of ensuring they receive the support services and opportunities they've earned. That’s why I’ve directed my local office to do everything it can to help Sacramento County veterans. I’m proud to say that the Director of my local district office is a Wounded Warrior Iraq War Veteran, and my whole team is constantly working to help area Veterans with backlogged benefits, health care issues, and more.
We’ve now helped veterans recover more than $1.8 million in earned benefits. We’d be honored to help you, too. Please feel free to call us at (916) 635-0505 or visit my Help for Veterans page to learn more.
- First-Class Health Care: As a doctor, I’ve been honored to personally care for World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War veterans. I’ve seen their sacrifices first-hand. As a nation, we have a solemn obligation to support them and make sure they get the best care possible. That’s why I’ve voted for bipartisan legislation to ensure accountability at the VA, reduce waiting times, and to hire more physicians to provide care.
I also introduced and passed the bipartisan 21st Century Health Care for Heroes Act to streamline and update electronic health records at the VA and the Defense Department. This will both help reduce the backlog of veterans’ benefits at the VA and get our heroes the care they've earned.
With my Republican colleague, Congressman Chris Gibson, during a meeting with the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs on the implementation of the 21st Century Health Care for Heroes Act.
More on Supporting our Military and Veterans: High rates of unemployment and homelessness among veterans are unacceptable. It’s troubling that many veterans face long wait times to access their hard-earned benefits and unnecessary bureaucracy is often to blame for delaying access to quality medical care. We must do a better job of ensuring that our troops and vets have the support services and opportunities they've earned. They deserve nothing less than our unwavering support.
During an official visit to Israel as part of my work on the Foreign Affairs Committee, I had the privilege of meeting with then-Israeli President Shimon Peres.
Our nation faces complex international challenges in the Middle East – everything from our fight against ISIL to preventing a nuclear Iran. We should continue to work with our allies and regional partners to ensure stability and a more peaceful world as we work to navigate these issues. In this complicated part of the world, America must not only be vigilant and relentless, but also strong and wise.
- Preventing a Nuclear Iran: In 2015, the U.S. and other nations from around the world negotiated an agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining or developing a nuclear weapon. Under this agreement, if Iran reduces its nuclear capabilities and provides independent inspectors access to its nuclear facilities, the country is eligible to receive relief from some international sanctions.
I have supported strong sanctions on the Iranian regime to hold them accountable and to help bring an end to their nuclear program. And now that this new international agreement is in place, Congress has an important role to play to ensure that it is fully enforced and will diminish Iran’s nuclear capability, leaving us in a better position 15 years from now. That’s why I’m supporting a new bill to create the Commission to Verify Iranian Nuclear Compliance. Modeled on the successful Helsinki commission that helped ensure our victory against the Soviet Union in the Cold War, it would ensure strong congressional oversight to hold the Iranian regime accountable. All options should continue to be on the table to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, including military action.
- Supporting our Israeli Allies and Pursuing a Two State Solution: America and Israel share an enduring bond of friendship. I’m committed to Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, and I believe Israel must be able to defend its own borders so it can protect its citizens against terrorists. With extremist groups like Hamas that openly seek its destruction, America and Israel must continue to work together to resist aggression.
That’s why I support continuing America’s military assistance to Israel so they can maintain a qualitative military advantage and defend themselves in a dangerous part of the world. Furthermore, our nation must continue to show leadership and pursue a two state solution so Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace and security.
My office held a congressional briefing with Planned Parenthood and Congresswoman Karen Bass on the importance of international family planning in honor of International Women’s Day.
As a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I’m working to defend women’s rights both at home and abroad. I believe the United States has a duty to lead by example and to work closely with the international community to protect and promote women’s equality worldwide. Standing for justice, equality, and freedom is part of what defines us as the world’s greatest democracy.
- Supporting the Health and Dignity of Women Worldwide: Far too often, women and children are the primary victims of poverty, discrimination, and war. The United States has a moral obligation to be a voice for these women when no one else will.
That’s why I’m working with both Republicans and Democrats to support the health and dignity of women around the world. For instance, I’m supporting bipartisan legislation to stop human traffickers that often prey on women. I’m also supporting the bipartisan Reach Every Mother and Child Act to establish an American foreign assistance strategy to end preventable maternal and newborn deaths.
The rights of women around the world must be a core part of America’s foreign policy. You can watch the below clip to see me working on these issues in the Foreign Affairs Committee, specifically when I called for action to help hundreds of Nigerian school girls who were captured by the terrorist organization Boko Haram:
- Ensuring Access to Contraception during Zika Epidemic: The World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus as a global health emergency. Though symptoms are usually mild, such as a fever, experts now know the virus can lead to birth defects. I led a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing to address this threat to global health, and am pushing for greater access to contraception as we keep working to address this epidemic. Given the risk for birth defects, it’s especially important to ensure women in the most at-risk regions can access the tools they need to keep their families healthy. This should include access to birth control so women can delay their pregnancies if they choose to.
- Defending Global Reproductive Rights: A woman’s access to reproductive health care shouldn’t be determined by where she was born. That’s why I’m supporting the Global Democracy Promotion Act. This legislation would permanently repeal a policy that prevents foreign aid funding from going to organizations that provide women with access to the full range of reproductive health services they may need. I also strongly support international family planning and reproductive health foreign aid programs to increase access to contraception, prevent unintended pregnancies, and to stop the needless deaths of mothers during birth.
In 2015, I was honored to join an official U.S. visit to India along with the President and other American leaders. I took part in several meetings with business leaders and others officials, including the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. Here I took part in the U.S.-India C.E.O. Forum. Click here to learn more about my visit.
We live and work in an interconnected global economy. According to the International Monetary Fund, the United States is only a piece of the world population and trillions of dollars in economic activity takes place outside our borders. Additionally, the Commerce Department reports that the Sacramento region exported more than $7 billion worth of merchandise in 2014 alone, which includes exports conducted by more than 1,500 small and medium sized businesses. In order to stay competitive, we need to be open to responsible ways to build on this success to create more American jobs.
On the Foreign Affairs Committee, I’m working to make sure our local businesses can continue to compete in the global economy so that they can grow, hire, and succeed in the 21st century.
- Strengthening Economic Ties With India: As a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and as co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, I’ve made it a priority to strengthen our economic ties with India. Our region in particular has a lot to gain from the U.S.-India relationship. This is especially true in areas where we are already leaders, like agriculture and defense.
According to the Sacramento County’s Agricultural Commissioner, our region's crops had a production value of nearly $470 million in economic activity in 2015. This supports jobs from farm workers, to truckers, to grocery store clerks. For our farmers and agricultural businesses like Blue Diamond Almonds, exporting locally grown products to India is an excellent opportunity.
Our area also has the leading agricultural school in the world, U.C. Davis. In fact, U.C. Davis agreed to collaborate with Indian industries to see how they can prevent food losses due to spoilage. I was proud to help facilitate this agreement in my congressional term to help grow our agriculture economy.
Click below to see me address the U.S. – India partnership in the Foreign Affairs Committee:
- Supporting America’s Exporting Businesses and Workers: I was proud to vote for a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Export-Import bank. This is a critical jobs bill that supports thousands of small businesses and export jobs, including in our area. It helps U.S. companies compete globally by providing support for them to sell their products all over the world.
In our congressional district alone, the bank has supported more than $500 million in exports for local businesses since 2007. More than a dozen Sacramento area businesses have been helped by the bank since 2007, providing them the certainty they need to compete in our global economy. You can view this graphic to learn more:
More on National Defense and Foreign Affairs
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representatives Ami Bera, M.D. (D-CA) and Ted Yoho (R-FL), Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation, today introduced a bipartisan resolution commemorating the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War and the strong United States-Republic of Korea partnership.
Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.) is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation. Victor Cha is senior adviser and Korea chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a professor at Georgetown University.
The unexplained periodic absences of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over the past two months are troubling. Presumed health ailments for this obese smoker and drinker could leave his nuclear-armed dictatorship potentially leaderless overnight.
Representative Ami Bera, M.D., Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation, made the following statement:
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WASHINGTON, DC - Chairman Ami Bera, M.D. (D-CA) and Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation led a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting a briefing on concerning reports that a resumption of U.S. nuclear testing is under consideration by the Trump Administration. This request was joined by 23 other Members.
WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Ami Bera, M.D. (D-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation, issued the following statement after the United States and Republic of Korea came to a stopgap agreement that allows South Korean workers on U.S. bases in the Republic of Korea to return to work.
WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Ami Bera, M.D. (D-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation, issued the following statement after the Chinese parliament approved its new national security legislation:
In late February, public health officials made an announcement: they had confirmed the first known case of a person getting Covid-19 without having travelled abroad or coming into contact with someone who had had the virus. This first reported case of community transmission was detected at the University of California, Davis Medical Centre in Sacramento.
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Ami Bera, M.D. (D-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation, today applauded the inclusion of his Securing America from Epidemics (SAFE) Act in the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. The SAFE Act authorizes the United States to participate in the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), an international public-private partnership developing COVID-19 vaccine candidates and helping to lead efforts to build an international vaccine cooperation mechanism.
WASHINGTON, DC – Today the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation held a teleconference to discuss the risks and implications of a leadership crisis in North Korea. Experts on the call included Dr. Victor Cha, CSIS Korea Chair, and Professor, Georgetown University; Dr. Sue Mi Terry, CSIS Korea Chair; Dr. Jung H. Pak, Brookings Institute; and Mr. Bruce Klingner, Heritage Foundation.
A European Union fundraising drive to support medical research into treatments and vaccines for the coronavirus met its initial goal Monday of raising $8 billion despite a lack of involvement by the United States.
Even with the initial fundraising goal met, U.S. absence from the EU-led effort, which will provide monetary support to the World Health Organization and other multilateral global public health efforts, has many experts and lawmakers worried about U.S. participation in coordinating research and developing a vaccine.