Joseph Pitts on Foreign Policy
Republican Representative (PA-16)
Voted NO 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 NO 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 YES 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 YES 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
Voted NO on keeping Cuba travel ban until political prisoners released.
Stop enforcing travel restrictions on US citizens to Cuba, only after the president has certified that Cuba has released all political prisoners, and extradited all individuals sought by the US on charges of air piracy, drug trafficking and murder.
Bill HR 2590
; vote number 2001-270
on Jul 25, 2001
Voted YES on withholding $244M in UN Back Payments until US seat restored.
Vote to adopt an amendment that would require that the United States be restored to its seat on the UN Human Rights Commission before the payment of $244 million in funds already designated to pay UN back dues.
Reference: Amendment sponsored by Hyde, R-IL;
Bill HR 1646
; vote number 2001-107
on May 10, 2001
Voted NO on $156M to IMF for 3rd-world debt reduction.
Vote on an amendment that would transfer $156 million from foreign military financing to the Highly Indebted Poor Countries [HIPC] Trust Fund. The HIPC Trust fund is designed to help debtor countries pay off the money they owe to multilateral agencies such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
Reference: Amendment sponsored by Waters, D-CA;
Bill HR 4811
; vote number 2000-397
on Jul 13, 2000
Voted YES on Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China.
Vote to give permanent Normal Trade Relations [NTR] status to China. Currently, NTR status for China is debated and voted on annually. The measure contains provisions designed to protect the United States from Chinese import surges and the administration would have to report annually on China's compliance with the trade agreement. The bill establishes a commission to monitor human rights, labor standards and religious freedom in China.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Archer, R-TX;
Bill HR 4444
; vote number 2000-228
on May 24, 2000
Voted NO on $15.2 billion for foreign operations.
Vote on a bill to provide $15.2 billion for foreign operations in FY 2000. Among other provisions, the bill would provide $1.82 billion over three years for implementation of the Wye River peace accord in the Middle East. In addition, the measure would provide $123 million in multilateral debt relief and would contribute $25 million to the United National Population Fund.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Callahan, R-AL;
Bill HR 3196
; vote number 1999-572
on Nov 5, 1999
Member of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus.
Pitts is a member of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus
The Congressional Human Rights Caucus (CHRC) is a bipartisan group of Members of Congress in the United States House of Representatives that works to raise awareness about and combat human rights abuses throughout the world.
The caucus keeps members and their staff informed of opportunities to help through briefings on human rights topics and letter initiatives.
Source: Congressional Caucus Web site 01-CHRC0 on Jan 8, 2001
Ban foreign aid to oil-producers who restrict production.
Pitts co-sponsored an amendment to the International Financial Institutions Act:
Title: To direct the International Monetary Fund to oppose any new loan to any country that is acting to restrict oil production to the detriment of the United States economy, except in emergency circumstances.
Summary: Amends the International Financial Institutions Act to direct the U.S. Executive Director at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to use the U.S. voice, vote, and influence to oppose any new IMF loan to any country which the Secretary of Energy determines is a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and is acting to restrict oil production to the detriment of the U.S. economy, or is acting in concert with OPEC to do so, unless the provision of the loan is necessary to address a systemic risk to the international financial system.
Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HR1688 on May 2, 2001
Rated -4 by AAI, indicating a anti-Arab anti-Palestine voting record.
Pitts scores -4 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.
Condemn China's organ harvesting from Falun Gong prisoners.
Pitts 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.
Pitts 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.
Support Iranian demonstrators against Iranian government.
Pitts signed bill supporting demonstrations against Iran
A resolution expressing support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law.
Source: SR.193&HR.549 2009-SR193 on Jun 19, 2009
- Expresses support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law.
- Condemns the ongoing violence against demonstrators by the government of Iran and pro-government militias as well as the ongoing government suppression of independent electronic communication through interference with the Internet and cellphones.
- Affirms the universality of individual rights and the importance of democratic and fair elections.
Condemn Iran for state-sponsored persecution of Baha'i.
Pitts 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
Commitment to unbreakable U.S.-Israel bond.
Pitts signed Hoyer-Cantor letter to Secy. Clinton from 327 House members
Dear Secretary Clinton:
We are writing to reaffirm our commitment to the unbreakable bond that exists between our country and the State of Israel and to express to you our deep concern over recent tension. In every important relationship, there will be occasional misunderstandings and conflicts.
Our valuable bilateral relationship with Israel needs and deserves constant reinforcement. As the Vice-President said during his recent visit to Israel: "Progress occurs in the Middle East when everyone knows there is simply no space between the U.S. and Israel when it comes to security, none. No space."
Steadfast American backing has helped lead to Israeli peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan. And American involvement continues to be critical to the effort to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
We recognize that, despite the extraordinary closeness between our country and Israel, there will be differences over issues both large and small. Our view is that such differences are best resolved quietly, in trust and confidence, as befits longstanding strategic allies. We hope and expect that, with mutual effort and good faith, the United States and Israel will move beyond this disruption quickly, to the lasting benefit of both nations.
Source: Hoyer-Cantor letter to Secy. Clinton from 327 House members 2010-LT-UB on Mar 25, 2010
Page last updated: Feb 20, 2016