Congressional Relations

  • America's Role in the World: Congress and US Foreign Policy

    As the Trump administration continues to form its foreign policy and national security strategy, Congress has a distinct role of its own to play in shaping how the United States addresses emerging global threats and approaches its leadership role on the international stage.  

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  • Trump’s Immigration Ban Will Have ‘Catastrophic Implications’

    Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) sees order as a ‘gift’ to hardliners in Iran

    US President Donald Trump’s executive order that curtails immigration and the rights of refugees is illegal, has “catastrophic implications” for the United States, and is a “gift” to hardliners in Iran as it paints all Iranians as a security threat to the United States, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) said at the Atlantic Council in Washington on January 30.

    “This ban on immigration from Iran to the United States is a gift to the hardliners at a moment in which we should not be giving them gifts,” said Murphy, noting that it comes at a particularly delicate time for the moderates in Iran soon after the death of former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on January 8. “This is a movement that does not need another body blow, and yet they got it,” said Murphy.

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  • Bipartisan Colombia Task Force Calls for Renewed US Engagement with Critical Ally

    Atlantic Council Launches Group Chaired by US Senators Blunt and Cardin
    Task Force to Propose Path Ahead for US-Colombia Relations

    The Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center concluded on December 8, 2016 the first convening of its Colombia Peace and Prosperity Task Force, chaired by US Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Benjamin Cardin (D-MD).The meeting ended with a call for the incoming Donald Trump administration to make strengthening relations with this critical US ally a key foreign policy goal. Meeting just one week after Congressional approval of the peace accords with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the Task Force reiterated the importance of continued bipartisan support to ensure a lasting peace in the country. It called for mobilizing new US and international development assistance as well as expanded diplomatic, technical, and security engagements.

    As the new Trump administration takes office, the Task Force will focus on several objectives between now and its expected mid-April recommendations.  Among those are: how to make “Peace Colombia” a long-term congressional and administration foreign policy priority; determining the right funding levels for United States-Colombia cooperation; and analyzing how to catalyze support from the international community and development institutions.

    “Colombia’s historic peace accord and hard fought victories against the illegal drug trade are remarkable achievements.” said co-chair Senator Blunt. “It is important that we continue our commitment to enhancing Colombia’s security capacity and expanding economic opportunities between our nations.”  

    Co-chair Senator Cardin spoke of the need to ensure continuous support as Colombia implements a hard-won peace deal: “Colombia is one of our most important partners in the Americas and, as the U.S. undergoes a major political transition, we must take further steps to strengthen this strategic relationship. The Atlantic Council task force will play a central role in helping Congress and the next Administration set priorities for how the U.S. can best support Colombian efforts to strengthen governance and security in the years ahead.”

    The Task Force meeting received a briefing from US Ambassador to Colombia Kevin Whitaker, Colombia’s Ambassador to the United States Juan Carlos Pinzon and Special Envoy for the Colombian Peace Process Bernard Aronson. All three urged consolidated bilateral cooperation in the next administration to guarantee mutually beneficial economic growth and regional stability.

    “The US-Colombia relationship is the most important strategic partnership in the hemisphere, and the key to our success has been strong US bipartisan support,” said Colombian Ambassador to the United States Juan Carlos Pinzón. “As seen in the successes of Plan Colombia, the US-Colombia alliance has helped drive Colombia’s transformation over the past decade and a half. Building on this strategic partnership through Peace Colombia will be crucial as we work to build a stable and lasting peace, and this new task force will have a vital role to play in the post-conflict period.”

    “Plan Colombia was a success in large part because of the bipartisan support it enjoyed in the United States. The next phase, Peace Colombia, will need the same kind of endorsement. The breadth of leaders who joined us today—from Congress, the private sector, and civil society—demonstrates a commitment to continued engagement with this critical ally,” said Peter Schechter, Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center at the Atlantic Council.

    The Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center will publish a final report on the Task Force’s recommendations in mid-2017.

    Other Task Force participants include:

    Scarlett Alvarez
    Vice-President and Global Chief Stakeholder and Sustainability Officer
    The AES Corporation

    Cynthia Arnson
    Director, Latin America Program
    Wilson Center

    Amb. Carolina Barco
    Former Ambassador of Colombia to the US; Senior Advisor
    Inter-American Development Bank

    The Hon. Rand Beers
    Deputy Homeland Security Advisor to the President
    US Department of Homeland Security

    Virginia Bouvier
    Senior Advisor for Peace Processes
    United States Institute of Peace

    Daniel W. Fisk
    Former Special Assistant to President George W. Bush and Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the NSC; Chief Operations Officer
    International Republican Institute

    The Hon. Ruben Gallego
    US Representative (D-AZ-7)

    Amb. Robert Gelbard

    Former Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs; President
    Gelbard International Consulting

    Thomas F. McLarty, III
    Former White House Chief of Staff under President Clinton; Chairman and Co-founder
    McLarty Associates

    The Hon. Gregory Meeks
    US Representative (D-NY-5)

    Amb. Roger Noriega
    Former US Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere; Founder and Managing Director
    Visión Américas

    The Hon. Devin
    US Representative (R-CA-22)

    Juan Esteban Orduz
    Chief Executive Officer
    Colombian Coffee Federation, Inc.

    Jaana Remes
    McKinsey Global Institute

    Catherine Robinson
    Director, International Government Affairs

    Michael Sheridan
    Director, Global Trade Strategy and Policy
    Ford Motor Company

    Michael Shifter
    Inter-American Dialogue

    Arturo Valenzuela
    Former US Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere; Senior Latin America Advisor
    Covington & Burling LLP

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  • Nuclear Energy: The Imperative for Innovation & Modernization

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  • Ukraine’s Humanitarian Crisis

    “People have forgotten that there’s a real humanitarian situation and a real need in a European country,” said Jock Mendoza-Wilson, director of international and investor relations at System Capital Management, during a recent Atlantic Council panel examining the crisis in Ukraine.

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  • US Lawmaker Urges ‘Path to EU Accession’ for Turkey

    Turkey will be critical to any US or NATO effort to shape Russia’s behavior in the Middle East and it should be put on the path to joining the European Union, said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA).

    “If we want to stabilize a volatile region with a strategic ally we are going to have to put them on the path to EU accession,” said Connolly. “It is in everyone’s interest that Turkey align itself with Europe and the EU.”

    Describing the Russo-Turkish relationship as one factor in the war in Syria, Connolly said: “Turkey must be able to engage Russia from a position of strength…as a democratic and NATO ally.”

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  • US-India Relationship: Playing Defense

    Deeper defense cooperation seen as key to boosting a trade relationship that has ‘plateaued’

    As the United States and India set out to realize their goal of elevating annual bilateral trade to $500 billion over the next decade, deeper defense cooperation will be key to energizing a trade relationship that has “plateaued,” two senior US Senators said at the Atlantic Council on April 25.

    “One of the areas where I think there is great, great opportunity to increase this trade is in the defense realm,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA). Noting that India is the second-largest buyer of US defense equipment, he added: “We need to increase that.”

    Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), who along with Warner co-chairs the Senate India Caucus, said the “defense industry can, and should, be a major piece” of the effort to expand the trade relationship for both economic and security reasons.

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  • ‘The Struggle Continues’: A Conversation on Zimbabwe with David Coltart

    On Tuesday, April 26, the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center hosted Senator David Coltart, Zimbabwean human rights activist and former Minister of Education, for a discussion on Zimbabwe.

    Africa Center Deputy Director Bronwyn Bruton welcomed attendees to the event, which took place on Capitol Hill.

    House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce provided opening remarks, in which he recalled his first trip to Zimbabwe amid the country’s economic collapse and crippling hyper-inflation.

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  • Counter-Disinformation Bill with Senators Rob Portman and Chris Murphy

    Russia’s attempts to win over hearts and minds in Ukraine, Eastern Europe, and beyond are succeeding—in large part because of the United States’ disengagement in the information arena, say experts. In response, Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) introduced a bill on March 16 that would significantly beef up the United States’ counter-propaganda efforts.

    “The United States is not doing enough to counter a destabilizing disinformation campaign—an extremely sophisticated effort to control information, often at the expense of US allies,” said Portman, speaking at an Atlantic Council event on March 16. “We believe this legislation overcomes some of the barriers and marks the first step to countering disinformation.”

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  • Remembering Boris Nemtsov

    Boris Nemtsov’s legacy and his final project—exposing the Kremlin’s role in the war in Ukraine—were remembered at an event in Washington to mark the first anniversary of his assassination.

    “He was a man of great values,” said Paula J. Dobriansky, a Senior Fellow at Harvard University and an Atlantic Council board director.

    Nemtsov was shot dead outside the Kremlin on February 27, 2015. In Moscow, thousands of people participated in a memorial rally to mark the first anniversary of his assassination.

    Dobriansky acknowledged the “profound” role Nemtsov, a Russian opposition politician, had played in exposing the Kremlin’s lies by documenting the presence of Russian troops in Ukraine. She spoke at an event hosted by the Atlantic Council and the US Senate Human Rights Caucus in Washington on March 2.

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