Congress’s most important job is to keep Americans safe. In a world of new, dynamic threats, we need a smart, tough national security strategy to contain our enemies abroad without getting drawn into prolonged conflicts. We also must prevent attacks from happening here at home, including foreign attacks on our elections. I served on the Armed Services Committee during my first four years in Congress, and I continue to work with anyone, regardless of political party, to pass legislation that makes America safer.
To the bewilderment of many in Congress, President Trump has taken steps seemingly intended to undermine global stability. The president’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and subversion of our long-standing alliances at NATO are just two of many actions taken by the president that have made America, and the world, less safe. We in Congress must act as a check on the president’s destructive agenda and work to maintain America’s position as a reliable world leader.
Congress must also do more to protect our communities by keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals, domestic abusers, and terrorists. In the wake of Sandy Hook, Aurora, Pulse nightclub, Las Vegas, and Parkland, Congressional action is long overdue. As a member of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, I’ve supported laws to toughen background checks, halt the sale of high capacity magazines and assault-style weapons, and ban suspected terrorists on the no-fly list from buying guns. I have become a nationally recognized leader in the fight to reduce gun violence, and I’ll keep fighting; too many Americans are dying as a result of gun violence.
America needs a national security strategy capable of countering the threats we face. This means preventing foreign fighters from entering the country and giving our military leaders the resources and support they need to thwart terrorist groups abroad.
As a member of the Armed Services Committee, I worked to give our warfighters the resources necessary to properly equip a 21st century military. While on Armed Services, I helped write and pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which establishes defense policy and priorities. I offered and passed amendments to increase the number of high-tech tools available to our warfighters, to continue the military’s efforts to diversify its fuel supply, and to reduce reliance on foreign oil. In addition, I voted to expand the missile defense cooperation we currently have with Israel to other allies in the Middle East. A previous year’s NDAA included provisions I fought for to authorize the building of new training facilities for Navy SEALs on Coronado and new hangars at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar to house F-35 jets – fulfilling important priorities for San Diego’s military leaders. And during this session of Congress, I voted to pass the bipartisan defense spending bill for the 2019 fiscal year, which includes funding for additional San Diego priorities: $22 billion for shipbuilding, a boost in aircraft procurement funding, and a 2.6% pay raise for our troops.
Protecting the integrity of our electoral process is also a matter of national security. American democracy is built on the promise of free and fair elections. Our intelligence agencies unanimously concluded that during the 2016 elections, Russia, directed by Vladimir Putin, sought to undermine the legitimacy of our electoral process by tipping the scales in favor of Mr. Putin’s preferred candidate. In the face of President Trump’s shocking refusal to clearly acknowledge Russian interference in our elections, it is up to Congress to pass legislation that repairs the vulnerabilities in our elections and punishes foreign aggressors who seek to threaten American democracy. During this session of Congress, I voted to pass legislation that directed the president to impose new sanctions on Russia for meddling in our elections.
Strengthening Relationships Abroad
Having robust relationships abroad puts the United States in a stronger position to counter the aggression of states like Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran. We must work with our allies to crack down on state sponsorship of terrorism, curb conventional weapons development and trafficking, and first and foremost stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons. I voted to support the Iran Nuclear Deal because it was the best option for preventing an armed nuclear conflict. President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the deal not only makes it easier for Iran to develop nuclear weapons, but diminishes America’s role as principal preserver of global stability.
Under President Trump, the United States has begun to shrink from the responsibility of maintaining alliances that preserved global stability for the better part of a century. Insulting our allies and emboldening our adversaries makes it more difficult for America to advance solutions to the most serious global challenges, like climate change, the proliferation of nuclear weapons, cyber aggression by hostile powers, and terrorism. As long as I am in Congress, I will work with both political parties to maintain America’s position as the world’s leader in peace and strength. I continue to push for international cooperation to tackle our toughest challenges.
Reducing Gun Violence
I came to Congress shortly after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, determined to make a difference and prevent the next gun violence tragedy. After Sandy Hook, Aurora, Pulse nightclub, Las Vegas, Parkland, and countless other mass shootings, I am so saddened and angry at the refusal of GOP leadership to allow us to even take a vote on one of a number of bipartisan proposals to curb gun violence. Their refusal to address gun violence epitomizes the partisan dysfunction in Congress that Americans detest. No one law can end gun violence, but we cannot sit idly by while gun violence tears American communities apart.
I have co-sponsored bills to toughen background checks to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and other criminals. And I stand ready to ban bump stocks, high-capacity magazines, and weapons of war that have no place in our schools, our streets, or in our neighborhoods. I have also pushed to ban suspected terrorists on the no-fly list from buying guns. The majority of Americans agree with these proposals, but Republicans, beholden to the NRA, refuse to let us act.
To try to force a vote to strengthen background checks, I have read the names of mass shooting victims in front of the House of Representatives. And in June of 2016, my colleagues and I became part of history when we livestreamed the Democratic sit-in protest in the House of Representatives to force votes to strengthen background checks and prevent the sale of firearms to suspected terrorists. As a nationally recognized leader in this fight, I won’t rest until the American people get the action from Congress they deserve to make our communities safer.