Intelligence and Military
I served on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The Committee has oversight over the various intelligence agencies and monitors security developments around the globe. I also served as a member of the CIA Subcommittee and the Department of Defense Intelligence and Overhead Architecture Subcommittee. During my tenure on the Committee, I worked with my colleagues to protect America from threats around the globe, I also made it a priority to ensure that the civil rights of all Americans are upheld.
Preventing a nuclear Iran is a critical national security objective. This is why I support the Iran nuclear deal negotiated among the countries of the P5+1 — the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia and Germany — along with the European Union. The United States entered into negotiations with one prevailing goal: to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. After months of negotiations, I believe the agreement will do just that. The deal severely restricts Iran’s nuclear program to only energy-grade enrichment, eliminates much of the country’s uranium stockpile, retires most centrifuges and gives International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors more access in Iran than in any country in the world. Most importantly, under this deal, Iran can never have a nuclear weapon.
In the 114th Congress the House took up legislation to reform our nation’s surveillance programs and to end bulk collection of telephone metadata and other business records. I supported the USA Freedom Act, which passed in June 2015 and became law. The USA Freedom Act preserves the tools needed to keep the American people safe while eliminating the authority for bulk collection of business records. Instead, the USA Freedom Act creates a targeted program to allow the Intelligence Community to access records only with prior approval from the The United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC, also called the FISA Court) and includes a much stronger definition of the specific selection terms that can be sought and the requires adoption of minimization procedures approved by the court. The law creates a panel of experts to advise the FISA Court on privacy and civil liberties, technical and legal issues to strengthen legal protections. Finally, the USA Freedom Act also allows greater transparency by requiring the declassification of significant opinions of the FISA court and providing for more detailed public reporting on the use of these legal authorities by national security agencies, as well as from the technology companies.
As the Republican-controlled House advocates cuts to community health centers, critical housing programs, Head Start programs, and police and firefighters, I strongly oppose the misguided Republican priorities and believe the Department of Defense must participate in efforts to reduce waste and bring our budget in line. I oppose the 2015 Defense Appropriations bill and the Intelligence Authorization bill that violate budget caps and fund our military and intelligence programs by pouring billions into the Overseas Contingency Operations fund in violation of spending caps agreed to by both parties. Our economic stability goes hand in hand with our national security. This country cannot continue to put military spending on the credit card while critical domestic investments are slashed.
I joined a bipartisan group of members to introduce legislation to increase transparency on our intelligence budgets. The Intelligence Budget Transparency Act requires the disclosure of the top-line spending levels for the 16 federal intelligence agencies. I believe that this is a reasonable step, recommended by the 9/11 Commission, that increases transparency without jeopardizing our national security.
After years calling for an end to military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which cost the United States over $100 billion per year, I had strong concerns about proposals to send additional soldiers back into Iraq and equipping rebels in Syria.
In light of efforts to address the significant costs of a decade of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, I called on the Department of Defense to share in the collective effort to reduce the national deficit. I offered an amendment to H.R. 1, the Fiscal Year 2011 Continuing Resolution on the floor to cut $415 million in funding for the V-22 Osprey military aircraft for the 2011 fiscal year. The program, which was targeted for elimination four times and called "a turkey" by former Vice President Dick Cheney, has a troubling history of safety issues and outrageous cost overruns.
I have worked on a number of enlistment issues regarding the Armed Forces.
I was honored to testify before a Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee hearing in May 2014 in support of expanding enlistment opportunities for DREAMers (DREAMers” because they comprise most (though not all) of the individuals who meet the general requirements of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. I believe allowing these young patriots to enlist is vital to our national interest because it enhances the military’s cultural expertise and diversifies the pool of well-educated applicants for recruitment across the board. I have stood with members on both sides of the aisle to support legislation to allow DREAMers to serve and defend the country they love.
I have also advocated for changes to protect military families. In response to some very troubling reports of U.S. citizens being denied an opportunity to enlist if they have an undocumented spouse or child, and even some being counseled by military recruiters to divorce their spouse in order to enlist, I partnered with Congressman Mike Coffman (R-CO) to call on the Service Secretaries to clarify the policy and call on them to resolve these troubling regulations.
As a strong supporter of equal rights for the LGBT community, I strongly supported the repeal of the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) which formally ended on September 20, 2011. While the military was training the forces and preparing for the repeal to go into effect, I called on the Armed Services to cease discharges for service members under the DADT policy and opposed Republican efforts that would slow down implementation of the repeal in the 2012 Defense Authorization bill.
A former member of the Committee on Veterans Affairs, I believe we must provide our veterans with the care and resources they earned from their sacrifice and service to our nation. I fought to ensure that victims of military sexual abuse are provided with counseling and treatment. As we welcome home a new generation of military service members from a decade of war, I will work to ensure that we access to health care and mental health services, provide job training, and continue and improve efforts to reduce homelessness among veterans.