America’s top foreign policy goal must be to defend our citizens and our homeland from foreign threats. Combating terrorism and preventing future terrorist attacks remain national priorities, and we must oppose the policies of oppressive regimes who threaten the interests of the United States and our allies. Governments that empower violent extremists, abuse their own people, or threaten the safety of Americans are of the utmost concern. I have always voted to ensure the brave men and women of our Armed Forces have the resources and training necessary to succeed on and off the battlefield.
As situations in the Middle East, the South China Sea, and around the globe evolve, it’s important to keep close the lessons learned from Iraq and Afghanistan. Committing our military forces to unknown challenges in the Middle East or anywhere – without a clear objective – places our service men and women at risk and jeopardizes the progress that citizens in these countries have fought for. Any future sustained military commitments require the input of Congress and the American public.
When it comes to the Second Amendment, gun control, and recent gun related violence we need common-sense solutions now more than ever. To that end, I was recently named the Co-Chair of a bipartisan working group trying to find constructive areas of agreement on this hot button issue. Recent tragedies underscore the need to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals.
I support comprehensive background checks. In fact, I was one of only 56 Republicans to support the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act which established the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). NICS bars felons, illegal immigrants, spousal abusers, and the mentally ill from buying or owning firearms. But clearly much work must be done to strengthen and improve this system and I support further improving NICS. I am a cosponsor of H.R. 4471 the NICS Denial Notifications Act to notify law enforcement when criminals break the law attempting to acquire a gun. I also recently wrote a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan urging that H.R. 4477, Fix NICS Act of 2017, be put before the House for immediate consideration. H.R. 4477 ensures that states and the federal government have clear lines of communication to share information and properly track, and deny gun ownership to dangerous people. I am also a cosponsor of H.R. 4240, the bipartisan Public Safety and Second Amendment Right Protection Act, to expand the existing background check system to include all commercial firearm sales – including gun shows and weapons purchased over the Internet. I have a long history of supporting buyer background checks.
Outside of the important legislation I listed above, we must take steps to ensure our schools have the resources and tools to ensure safety. I am a cosponsor and voted in favor of H.R. 4909, the STOP School Violence Act of 2018, to provide grants for training of local law enforcement, school personnel, and students and create anonymous reporting systems for threats of school violence. H.R. 4909 passed the U.S. House of Representatives with wide bipartisan support.
I have also made bipartisan mental health legislation a priority. Horrific mass murder-suicides highlight the connection between mental illness and gun violence. This is why I strongly supported bipartisan legislation, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, to remove barriers to treatment and improve care. I worked to include it in my 21st Century Cures Act which was signed into law. For far too long we have done too little for those suffering with addiction and mental illness, and I recently led a bipartisan letter to the House Appropriations Committee urging them to fully fund these important programs.
Foreign Aid and Refugees
In light of our current fiscal situation, I believe we must scrutinize all foreign aid to ensure it is only going to the most deserving causes and nations. Foreign aid is an important tool in advancing U.S. and global security, and we must ensure we are making the best possible use of taxpayer dollars. Supporting refugees also falls into this category. The U.S. has a long and proud history of supporting refugees and being a haven for persecuted people. We should continue that tradition while we review and improve security measures to uphold our duty to the American people.
I continue to support the ongoing, bipartisan investigations occurring in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate - as well as Special Prosecutor Mueller's investigation - related to possible Russian interference in the 2016 election. I publicly called for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from the Justice Department investigation and supported U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes decision to step away from the House investigation as well.
Stopping Sexual Assault in the Military
Last year, Congress passed the bipartisan Military Retaliation Prevention Act (S. 2870) as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. S. 2870 made retaliation against someone who reports a crime like sexual assault an offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. While this was a good step, more needs to be done to protect and ensure justice for our service men and women. I support removing the decision of whether a sexual assault case goes to trail outside the victim’s chain of command was proud to cosponsor the bipartisan Military Justice Improvement Act (H.R. 2016) to do that in the 113th Congress. H.R. 2016 would also have required a commanding officer who receives a report of sexual assault in his chain of command to immediately refer the report to the appropriate investigative officer.
As Chairman of the Energy Subcommittee, securing critical energy infrastructure, including the electric grid and oil and gas pipelines, is one of my top priorities. In 2015, grid security and reliability measures (H.R. 2271, H.R. 2244, and H.R. 1558) advanced by the committee were signed into law as part of bipartisan highway legislation. This legislation took a big step forward in securing the electric grid by providing the Secretary of Energy with new authority to address imminent threats, requiring the department to evaluate the use of a Strategic Transformer Reserve to increase our emergency preparedness, and clarifying regulations for operators responding to threats.