As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, a substantial portion of my time in the 112th Congress will be spent working on issues related to international relations and national security policy. I will always advocate for a strong and smart foreign policy aimed at strengthening our national security, protecting Israel's right to exist, eliminating the threat posed by Iran's nuclear weapons program, and defeating al Qaeda's terrorist network.
Iran's Illicit Quest for Nuclear Weapons
Iran's nuclear weapons program is the single greatest threat to the security of America, Israel, and our allies. As Iran is the world's leading state sponsor of terror, we must do everything in our power to prevent nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists. While the international community must continue to work together to place economic pressure on Iran, it is imperative that the United States take immediate action by imposing strict economic sanctions on this dangerous regime. As a Florida State Senator, I passed legislation making our state the first in the country to place economic pressure on Iran. Within my first few weeks in Congress, I voted to send the Iran Sanctions Act to conference with the United States Senate and also testified before the Senate Homeland Security Committee on how to identify companies that do business with Iran's energy sector. I will focus on this issue until we successfully thwart Iran's nuclear weapons program and end the Iranian regime's practice of sponsoring terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah.
A Safe and Secure Israel
As a lifelong activist in the pro-Israel community, protecting Israel's security amidst regional hostility and terrorist threats is my unwavering commitment. America's unshakeable bond with Israel extends far beyond mutual military interests. America benefits from Israel's innovative economy, vibrant cultural and artistic contributions, and deep commitment to democracy and human rights. Congress must stand with Israel in the face of terrorist attacks, extremist propaganda, hostile neighbors in the Middle East, and a radical Iranian regime whose leader talks of a world without Israel.
I am proud that some of my first votes in Congress helped propel legislation strengthening Israel's security. During my first week in the House, I voted to move the Iran Sanctions Act to conference with the United States Senate, making stringent sanctions on the Iranian regime one step closer to becoming law. I also voted to authorize President Obama's request to increase funding for Israel's Iron Dome project, a short range missile defense system that will protect innocent Israeli citizens from rockets and mortars. I firmly believe that security is paramount to any hope for a peaceful Middle East. It is critical that the Palestinian Authority and other Arab nations end incitement, stop delegitimizing Israel, end their illegal economic embargos, normalize diplomatic relations, and reject the use of terror as a negotiating tool. The Israeli government, including current Prime Minister Netanyahu, has shown clear signs of wishing to achieve a lasting peace through a two-state solution with a demilitarized Palestinian territory. It is now time for Palestine and other Arab nations to meet Israel's sacrifice and efforts to achieve Middle East peace.
Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
While the initial war in Iraq was misguided, there is no question that our troops have served ably and honorably abroad. I support President Obama's responsible phased withdrawal of our troops and the continued transfer of responsibility to the Iraqi government. The war in Iraq has cost the United States thousands of lives and over $725 billion to American taxpayers while distracting us from more pressing national security matters. In fact, the war's destabilizing effect on Iraq has empowered the hostile regime in Iran, a disturbing development given President Ahmadinejad's determination to build nuclear weapons.
It is time to refocus our efforts in Afghanistan and the deserts of Pakistan, where the terrorist network al Qaeda continues to plot against the United States. President Obama's renewed focus on Al Qaeda is making progress, with our military forces eliminating several high profile leaders within the terrorist organization. However, in addition to direct military action, the United States must work to strengthen Afghan security forces, promote human rights and women's rights in the country, and maintain a close security relationship with Pakistan as we pursue Taliban and Al Qaeda militants in the region. We must remain heavily involved with Afghanistan's leadership in order to prevent undue influence from the nearby Iranian regime in the struggling nation's affairs. I believe each of these objectives are important in order to conclude this mission and bring our troops home.