Chris Van Hollen on Foreign Policy
Democratic Representative (MD-8)
Voted YES 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;
; vote number 2009-H333
on Jun 11, 2009
Voted YES on cooperating with India as a nuclear power.
Congressional Summary:US-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Nonproliferation Enhancement Act:
- Approves the US-India Agreement for Cooperation on Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy.
- Declares that it is US policy to prevent the transfer to India of nuclear equipment, materials, or technology from other participating governments in the Nuclear Suppliers Group or from any other source; and
- any nuclear power reactor fuel reserve provided to India for use in safeguarded civilian nuclear facilities should be commensurate with reasonable reactor operating requirements.
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;
; vote number 2008-H662
on Sep 27, 2008
Voted NO 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
- Denial of participation in cooperative research and development
- Prohibition of ownership and control of any business registered as a manufacturer or exporter of defense articles or services
- Removal of all licenses relative to dual-use goods or technology
- Prohibition of participation of any foreign military sales
Voted NO 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
- Requires the creation of an Independent Oversight Board with the authority to evaluate all operations of the UN
- Instructs the UN to implement procedures to protect whistle-blowers, individuals who reveal wrongdoings within an organization to the public or to those in positions of authority
- Obliges the creation of a uniform code of conduct for all UN officials
- Requires the shifting of the funding mechanisms of certain organizational programs from the regular assessed UN budget to voluntarily funded programs
- Compels the US President to influence the Secretary General of the UN to waive diplomatic immunity for UN officials under investigation or charged with serious criminal offences
- Creates a certification of UN cooperation to provide documentary evidence to member states investigating the Oil-for-Food program
Rated -1 by AAI, indicating a mixed Arab/Palestine voting record.
Van Hollen scores -1 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.
Source: AAI website 12-AAI-H on May 2, 2012
- H.Res. 88 (+): supporting democratic aspirations in Egypt
- H.R. 2643 (+): penalizing the Bahraini government for attacking medical personnel
- H.R. 1006 (-): the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act
- H.R. 1501 (-): withholding US contributions until the UN retracts accusations of Israeli war crimes.
- H.Res. 268 (-): opposing any unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state
- H.R. 2457 (-): prohibiting any US government document from referring to "Palestine"
- H.R. 2829 (-): defunding the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees. The bill's 141 co-sponsors receive a (-).
- 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.
- H.R. 2215 (*) "to ensure that United States taxpayer dollars are not used to fund terrorist entities in Lebanon
- H.R. 996 (+): to raise awareness of the use of cluster munitions where civilians are present
- H.R. 140 (-): the "Birthright Citizenship Act, to eliminate "anchor babies" by changing the 14th Amendment.
- H. Res. 283 (+): to counter violence and discrimination against Muslim, Arab, Sikh, and South Asian communities
- H.R. 1805 (-): authorizing an extension of the USA PATRIOT Act until 2013, and amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)
- H.R. 1842 (+): the DREAM Act to protect undocumented minors pursuing higher education.
- H.R. 1932 (-): the Keep our Communities Safe Act for greater power to detain undocumented immigrants.
Humanitarian aid to rebuild Haiti after earthquake.
Van Hollen co-sponsored Haiti Empowerment, Assistance, and Rebuilding Act
Source: H.R.3771 12-H3771 on Jan 10, 2012
- On January 12, 2010, Haiti suffered an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale, the greatest natural disaster in Haiti's history, which killed more than 300,000 people & left 2,300,000 people homeless;
- Prior to the earthquake, Haiti was the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with an estimated 54% of its population living on less than $1 per day;
- Although initial recovery efforts must continue to assist the people of Haiti struggling to secure basic necessities, including food, water, health care, shelter, and electricity, Haiti cannot afford to only focus on its immediate needs.
- The circumstances following the earthquake in Haiti provide a real opportunity for Haiti to break the cycle of poverty, social inequality and unrealized expectations that has marked Haiti's history;
It is the policy of the United States, in partnership with the Government of Haiti and in coordination with the international community, to support the sustainable recovery and rebuilding of Haiti in a manner that encourages greater economic equality; embraces Haitian independence; incorporates the potential of both women and men to contribute equally; providing a foundation for economic growth and economic sustainability, through investments in essential infrastructure; [and in general] to promote long-term, sustainable rebuilding and development in Haiti.
Integrate gender into diplomatic and foreign aid processes.
Van Hollen co-sponsored Women, Peace, and Security Act
Expresses the sense of Congress that:
- implementation of the US National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security (NAP) is paramount in improving the lives of women around the world and increasing global stability and prosperity;
- It is US policy to implement NAP;
- The US Agency for International Development (USAID) should integrate gender into diplomatic and strategic and planning processes;
- federal agencies shall ensure that the tenets of NAP are incorporated into programs for conflict prevention, humanitarian and disaster response, peacekeeping, and democracy promotion;
- Federal agencies facilitate partner government efforts to improve women's inclusion in peace and security processes, conflict prevention, peace-building and decision-making institutions in conflict-affected environments.
White House Summary of NAP, December 2011:The goal of this National Action Plan is as simple as it is profound: to empower half the world's population
as equal partners in preventing conflict and building peace in countries threatened and affected by war, violence, and insecurity. Deadly conflicts can be more effectively avoided, and peace can be best forged and sustained, when women become equal partners. The National Action Plan is guided by the following five principles:
Source: H6255/S3477 12-S3477 on Aug 1, 2012
- the engagement and protection of women as agents of peace and stability
- building on goals for gender integration, gender equality, and women's empowerment
- guided by the principle of inclusion, seeking out the views and participation of a wide variety of stakeholders--women and girls, men and boys, and members of marginalized groups
- coordinate among all relevant departments and agencies of the US government, integrated into relevant United States foreign policy initiatives, and enhanced by engagement with international partners
- be accountable for the implementation of the policies and initiatives endorsed in this Plan.
Condemn China's organ harvesting from Falun Gong prisoners.
Van Hollen signed Resolution on Falun Gong
RESOLUTION expressing concern over persistent and credible reports of systematic, state-sanctioned organ harvesting from non-consenting prisoners of conscience, in the People's Republic of China, including from large numbers of Falun Gong practitioners imprisoned for their religious beliefs, and members of other religious and ethnic minority groups.
- Whereas the People's Republic of China performs more than10,000 organ transplantations per year;
- Whereas the Department of State Country Report on Human Rights for China for 2011 reported 'instances of organ harvesting, particularly from Falun Gong practitioners and Uighurs';
- Whereas the People's Republic of China implemented regulations in 1984 that permitted the harvesting of organs from executed prisoners;
- Whereas Falun Gong, a spiritual practice involving meditative exercises, with the number of practitioners upwards of 70,000,000;
- Whereas in July 1999, the Chinese Communist Party launched an intensive, nationwide
persecution designed to eradicate the spiritual practice of Falun Gong
Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
Source: H.Res.281 14_HRes281 on Jun 27, 2013
- calls on the Government of the People's Republic of China to immediately end the practice of organ harvesting from all prisoners, and particularly from Falun Gong prisoners of conscience and members of other religious and ethnic minority groups;
- calls for a full and transparent investigation into organ transplant practices;
- demands an immediate end to the 14-year persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual practice;
- recommends that the United States State Department issue a travel warning for US citizens traveling to China for organ transplants informing them that the organ source for their operation may be a prisoner of conscience; and
- recommends that the US Government publicly condemn organ transplantation abuses in China and ban the entry of those who have participated in illegal removal of human tissues and organs.
Acknowledge the Armenian Genocide of the early 1900s.
Van Hollen 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
- WHEREAS the Armenian Genocide was conceived and carried out by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923, resulting in the deportation of nearly 2,000,000 Armenians, of whom 1,500,000 men, women, and children were killed, and which succeeded in the elimination of more than 2,500-year presence of Armenians in their historic homeland;
- WHEREAS, on May 24, 1915, the Allied Powers issued the joint statement of England, France, and Russia that explicitly charged, for the first time ever, another government of committing "a crime against humanity";
- WHEREAS, despite the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide, the failure of the domestic and international authorities to punish those responsible for the Armenian Genocide is a reason why similar genocides have recurred and may recur in the future, and that a just resolution will help prevent future genocides:
- NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Senate calls on the President, in the
President's annual message commemorating the Armenian Genocide, to accurately characterize the systematic annihilation of 1,500,000 Armenians as genocide and to recall the proud history of US intervention in opposition to the Armenian Genocide.
Acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, as official US policy.
Van Hollen signed Affirmation of US Record on Armenian Genocide
The House of Representatives finds the following:
Source: H.RES.252 2009-HR252 on Mar 17, 2009
- The Armenian Genocide was conceived and carried out by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923, resulting in the deportation of nearly 2,000,000 Armenians, of whom 1,500,000 men, women, and children w
President Woodrow Wilson concurred and chartered some $116,000,000 from 1915 to 1930 to aid Armenian Genocide survivors, including 132,000 orphans who became foster children of the American people.
- [Presidential concurrence has been echoed through Presidents Reagan, Clinton, and Bush].
DECLARATION OF POLICY: Congress calls upon the President:
- to ensure that U.S. foreign policy reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights, ethnic cleansing, and genocide documented in the U.S. record relating to the Armenian Genocide and the consequences of the failure to realize a just resolution; and
- in the President's annual message commemorating the Armenian Genocide to accurately characterize the systematic and deliberate annihilation of 1.5 million Armenians as genocide, and to recall the proud history of U.S. intervention in opposition to the Armenian Genocide.
Allow travel between the United States and Cuba.
Van Hollen signed Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act
Prohibits the President from regulating or prohibiting travel to or from Cuba by U.S. citizens or legal residents or any of the transactions ordinarily incident to such travel, except in time of war or armed hostilities between the United States and Cuba, or of imminent danger to the public health or the physical safety of U.S. travelers.
Source: S.428&HR.874 2009-S428 on Feb 12, 2009
Afghan laws violate women's human rights on sex & divorce.
Van Hollen signed Shi'ite Personal Status Law
CONCURRENT RESOLUTION: Expressing the sense of Congress that the Shi'ite Personal Status Law in Afghanistan violates the fundamental human rights of women and should be repealed.
Source: SCR.19&HCR.108 2009-SCR19 on Apr 23, 2009
- Whereas in March 2009, the Shi'ite Personal Status Law was approved by the parliament of Afghanistan and signed by President Hamid Karzai;
- Whereas according to the United Nations, the law legalizes marital rape by mandating that a wife cannot refuse sex to her husband unless she is ill;
- Whereas the law also weakens mothers' rights in the event of a divorce and prohibits a woman from leaving her home unless her husband determines it is for a 'legitimate purpose';
- Whereas President Barack Obama has called the law 'abhorrent' and stated that 'there are certain basic principles that all nations should uphold, and respect for women and respect for their freedom and integrity is an important principle';
Whereas Afghanistan acceded to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, entered into force September 3, 1981 (CEDAW), which condemns discrimination against women in all its forms and reaffirms the equal rights and responsibilities of men and women during marriage and at its dissolution;
- Whereas the provisions in the Shi'ite Personal Status Law that restrict women's rights are diametrically opposed to those goals:
- Now, therefore, be it Resolved that Congress--
- urges the Government of Afghanistan and President Hamid Karzai to declare the provisions of the Shi'ite Personal Status Law on marital rape and restrictions on women's freedom of movement unconstitutional;
- encourages the Government of Afghanistan to solicit information and advice from governmental and women-led nongovernmental organizations to ensure that legislation uphold the equal rights of women.
Condemn Iran for state-sponsored persecution of Baha'i.
Van Hollen signed bill condemning Iran for persecution of Baha'i
A resolution condemning the Government of Iran for its state-sponsored persecution of the Baha'i minority in Iran and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights.
- Whereas since 1982, Congress declared that it deplored the religious persecution by the Government of Iran of the Baha'i community and would hold the Government of Iran responsible for upholding the rights of all Iranian nationals, including members of the Baha'i faith;
- Whereas in November 2007, the Iranian Ministry of Information in Shiraz jailed three Baha'is for educating underprivileged children and gave them 4-year prison terms, which they are serving;
- Whereas they were targeted solely on the basis of their religion;
- Whereas, on January 23, 2008, the US Department of State released a statement urging the Iranian regime to release all individuals held without due process and a fair trial, including the 3 young Baha'is being held;
- Whereas in March 2008,
Iranian intelligence officials arrested and imprisoned seven members of the coordinating group for the Baha'i community in Iran, on charges of 'espionage for Israel, insulting religious sanctities and propaganda against the Islamic Republic';Whereas these seven Baha'i leaders were targeted solely on the basis of their religion; and
- Whereas the Government of Iran is party to the International Covenants on Human Rights:
Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the Senate and House of Representatives
- 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;
- calls on the Government of Iran to immediately release the seven leaders and all other prisoners held solely on account of their religion; and
- 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
Page last updated: May 18, 2020