"An America that inspires hope in its ideals is the best complement to an America that inspires awe in its strength. Integrity, generosity, and vision have always been essential cornerstones of our policy and prosperity. We are a more secure America when we rally the world to our side." - Congressman Adam Schiff
Protecting America in the Age of Terrorism
Following the September 11 attacks, Schiff supported American military action against al Qaeda. But he has also pushed for a broader strategy that emphasizes diplomacy, improvements in homeland security, intelligence reform, and efforts to stabilize countries to prevent future failed states from becoming havens for terrorists.
Schiff has worked to reorient American aid to Pakistan in order to persuade Pakistani leaders to make the fight against Pakistani Taliban and al Qaeda elements the centerpiece of their national security strategy, rather than the decades-long rivalry with India. The FY 2010 State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs bill and the FY 2009 Supplemental Appropriations Bill passed earlier this year, reflect this shift in American policy as well as a realization that one of best ways to combat extremism is to work with the Pakistani government to bring economic opportunity and better schools to the volatile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
Schiff also supports President Obama's decision to refocus our efforts in Afghanistan. While he understands that this is a war that the Afghans themselves must win, Schiff also believes that the security situation must be stabilized, sufficient Afghan forces must be trained and Afghanistan's nascent democracy must be given time to take root before American and NATO forces can begin a serious drawdown in the country.
As a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (to which he was appointed by Speaker Pelosi during the 110th Congress), Schiff is also focusing on Yemen and Somalia, two countries with weak central governance, limited economic opportunity and active extremist movements. Schiff is concerned that either country could become a new haven for al Qaeda.
Halting the Spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction
Throughout his tenure in Congress, Schiff has made nonproliferation a centerpiece of his efforts to improve our nation's security. Nuclear nonproliferation has been identified as the single most serious threat to our national security by leaders of both political parties. The threat is heightened by Osama bin Laden's stated desire to use a nuclear weapon against the United States and by the nuclear weapons programs of Iran and North Korea. Schiff has worked to accelerate the securing of nuclear material around the world, but especially in the former Soviet Union. The State Department has identified twenty-four "high priority" sites where such material is known to be at risk of being stolen and used in a terrorist plot.
In the current Congress, Schiff reintroduced the Nuclear Forensics and Attribution Act, which will strengthen our ability to identify the origin of nuclear material so that we can trace those who smuggle these materials and determine the source of a nuclear terrorist attack. With this ability, we can deter rogue nations from passing on weapons and material to terrorist groups, because they would be inextricably linked to the crime. This bill passed the House on March 26, 2009 and was sent to the Senate.
In the 110th Congress, Schiff introduced a bill to make our nation safer from nuclear terrorism. The Ending Nuclear Trafficking Act would take the first steps towards making trafficking in nuclear materials a crime against humanity and would strengthen U.S. laws against nuclear trafficking as well. By making such trafficking unacceptable in the eyes of every country, we can fight this threat at its root.
Building Security through Diplomacy and Engagement
While the use of military force should never be ruled out, Congressman Schiff believes that our nation's diplomats are our first line of defense. Concerted efforts to seek diplomatic solutions to international crises can often produce better results for America than the use of force. Schiff has been consistent in urging the administration to seek peaceful resolutions to the nuclear standoffs with North Korea and Iran.
As a member of the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations, Schiff has pushed to increase the size of the State Department's work force -- Foreign Service, civil service and USAID. Working with Chairwoman Nita Lowey, Schiff has been successful in getting significant increases in the number of American diplomatic and development personnel. The FY 2009 State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs bill included money to hire an additional 800 people at State and USAID and the FY 2010 bill includes money for an additional 1,000 diplomats and aid specialists.
Congressman Schiff also believes that American national security is enhanced by our leadership of multilateral institutions like the United Nations, the World Bank and the IMF. Schiff recognizes these institutions, which were created in the aftermath of World War II, are not perfect and that the United Nations is especially in need of serious reform. Nevertheless, they have proven themselves as effective tools of American foreign policy and have been instrumental in helping the United States to work in concert with others on a wide variety of security, development, health, environmental and other issues.
Changing Course in Iraq
Our troops in Iraq have done their duty with honor and courage and they have paid a terrible price in blood. Now it is time to transform their mission from policing a civil war, to counter-terrorism, containment and training, and to begin bringing our combat forces home. Congressman Schiff has, for years, maintained that there can be no military solution to the Iraqi Civil War; only a process of political compromise and reconciliation can stabilize Iraq. President Obama has called for a new direction in Iraq and has begun the process of handing over our security responsibilities to the Iraqi government. He is committed to a phased withdrawal of all combat troops to stem the loss of lives, strengthen the Iraqi government, and refocus attention and resources on the American-led NATO effort in Afghanistan, and Congressman Schiff supports his efforts.
Enlarging the Circle of Democracy
Congressman Schiff agrees with those who say that strengthening emerging democracies and helping other states to make the transition to democracy is the best antidote to extremism and the conditions that give rise to it. He also understands that building democracies is a long-term process and that democracy cannot be imposed from without.
In 2005, Schiff was appointed to serve on the newly-created House Democracy Assistance Commission (HDAC) by Democratic Leader (now Speaker of the House) Nancy Pelosi. The mission of the House Democracy Assistance Commission is to promote responsive, effective government and strengthen democratic institutions by assisting legislatures in emerging democracies. Central to the Commission's work is peer-to-peer cooperation to build technical expertise in partner legislatures that will enhance accountability, transparency, legislative independence, access to information, and government oversight.
During the 109th Congress, Schiff and his colleagues on the Commission worked with partner legislatures in 12 countries: Afghanistan, Colombia, East Timor, Georgia, Haiti, Indonesia, Kenya, Lebanon, Liberia, Macedonia, Mongolia, and Ukraine. In the 110th Congress Schiff led a delegation to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Afghanistan that pushed leaders in Yerevan and Baku to allow greater political freedom, assessed the progress of the news democratic government in Pakistan and continued HDAC's program in Afghanistan.
Congressman Schiff is proud to have been named to HDAC in the 111th Congress.
Securing America's Energy Supply
America's reliance on foreign oil, especially oil from the volatile Middle East, is the most serious threat to our nation's long-term security and independence. Stable, reliable, and affordable sources of energy are crucial to our security and our prosperity. To ensure such a supply, Congressman Schiff believes that developing cleaner sources of energy and encouraging energy efficiency and conservation must be among our nation's top priorities.
As a member of the House Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus, Schiff has long advocated for increased investments in the search for alternative fuels and the development of energy efficient technology. Today, European and Asian competitors are already developing technologies that will reduce fuel consumption and lower emissions of greenhouse gases. Rather than American entrepreneurs, it is our competitors who are prospering from these developments. By marshalling America's great strengths -- our innovativeness, our technological prowess, and our entrepreneurial spirit -- we could better secure our nation, save the environment, and become the world leader in a cutting edge industry.
The American Clean Energy and Security Act is a ground-breaking effort to provide energy independence and fight global warming while keeping energy prices low. Taking effect in 2012, it would cap greenhouse gas emissions and then allow companies to trade their permits to emit so that market encourages the cheapest reductions to be made. It would initially distribute some permits for free, and use the proceeds of selling some permits to reduce energy costs for low-income households and invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy. This bill passed the House on June 26, 2009 by a vote of 219-212. It included legislation written by Congressman Schiff to expand the ability of the Federal Government to purchase cheap renewable energy by allowing the use of long-term contracts for the purchase of renewable energy.