Congressional Relations

  • Dialogue with Congressman Ro Khanna

    On September 13th 2017, the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council hosted a dialogue with Congressman Ro Khanna on his proposed bill centered on reforming the H-1B and L-1 visas for high skilled workers in the U.S. In addition to the central topic, Congressman Khanna discussed his views on broader immigration trends, the Trump Administration’s decision to rescind the D.A.C.A Act, the long-term strengths of the U.S as a hub for foreign talent and the US’ relations with India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. This discussion was moderated by Bharath Gopalaswamy, director of the South Asia Center.
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  • NAFTA and North American Energy: What Comes Next?

    Following the end of the second round of NAFTA renegotiations, the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center—in partnership with the Council’s Global Energy Center—hosted a discussion on a modernized NAFTA’s potential to revolutionize North America’s energy space on September 7, 2017. The event featured special remarks by Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX 10th District) and followed with a panel of leading experts on trade and energy, including David L. Goldwyn, chairman of the Atlantic Council’s Energy Advisory Group and nonresident senior fellow with the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center; Jeffrey J. Schott, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics; and Shawn Donnan, world trade editor at the Financial Times. The conversation was moderated by Amy Harder, energy reporter at Axios.

    The event also marked the launch of a new Atlantic Council Spotlight publication, authored by David Goldwyn, outlining four ways an updated NAFTA can improve North American energy market integration and the region’s global energy competitiveness.

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  • Launch: State Department Reform Report

    In this follow-up to the Atlantic Council’s 2016 report on reforming the National Security Council, a team of respected and experienced authors led by former Ambassadors Thomas Pickering, Chester Crocker, and David Miller examined the inner workings of the US Department of State in order to find ways to improve the department’s performance quickly and for little if any cost. The report spells out five key areas where the State Department needs improvement: structure and process, personnel, budget, congressional relations, and the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

    On September 6, the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security’s Foresight, Strategy, and Risks Initiative (FSR) hosted a launch event for the State Department Reform Report. The event featured a keynote address from Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and a panel with the report’s authors moderated by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius. Chairman Royce stressed the importance of the State Department as the country’s “most important foreign policy institution,” and expressed his admiration for the department’s Foreign Service Officers (FSOs). The panel of authors then elaborated on several of their proposals, including the need for more dedicated training for FSOs, better mutual understanding between the State Department and Congress, and improvements to the independence and effectiveness of USAID.
     

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  • What if NAFTA Ended? The Imperative of Getting Negotiations Right

    On Thursday, July 27th, the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center presented preliminary findings to the Mexican Congress of a new three-country report – What if NAFTA Ended? The Imperative of getting negotiations right. The event highlighted the strategic and economic importance of NAFTA to the North American economy right before negotiations between the United States, Canada, and Mexico begin. The final report is set to be released in Washington, DC, in October 2017.

    The half day event in Mexico City was kicked off by Congressman Ángel Garcia Yanez, representative of the Nueva Alianza party who gave welcoming remarks. Garcia introduced Jason Marczak, Director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center at the Atlantic Council, who commented on the long-term collaborative relationship that has produced a freer trilateral marketplace and a more competitive North America.

    Following Jason’s remarks, Oscar Cázares, President, Mexican National Auto Part Industry, took the stage and provided insights from the auto industry standpoint, one of the sectors that would be most impacted by NAFTA negotiations.

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  • Colombia Peace and Prosperity Report Launch: A Dinner with President Juan Manuel Santos

    After almost twelve months of consultations and deliberations, the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center launched on May 17 the Colombia Peace and Prosperity Task Force report: A Roadmap for US Engagement with Colombia. It was the culmination of the work of a notable group co-chaired by Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Ben Cardin(D-MD), who strived to provide a roadmap for US engagement with Colombia going forward. The goal was to keep the focus on the US-Colombia partnership as the country implements peace and agenda items compete for priority in the new US administration.

    With Plan Colombia, a bipartisan strategic framework sustained over almost two decades, Colombia and the United States consolidated a mutually beneficial relationship. Today, the United States is presented with the opportunity to maintain a major stake in the next phase of Colombia’s transformation. Solidifying a strategic bipartisan partnership with Colombia offers the United States enviable opportunities to reap the national security benefits of its $10 billion Plan Colombia investment.

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  • Trump’s First 100 Days: What Next?

    No one can say President Donald Trump’s first 100 days were uneventful. First met with unprecedented opposition, the administration proceeded to swiftly implement the vision Trump laid out on the campaign trail. However, he has had both high-profile setbacks, like not being able to get an Obamacare reform bill to the floor, and positive developments, like the widely praised Syria strikes. Meanwhile, Trump seems to already be changing his mind on many of his most remarkable foreign policy stances on the campaign, for example, that NATO is now no longer “obsolete” and that he will not label China a currency manipulator.

    The question at and past the 100 days mark is: what next? What else is there to expect from the Trump administration both at home and abroad beyond the first 100 days? Are the latest personnel issues and policy stances a sign of things to come? Or are these just the natural growing pains of a new presidency? To answer these questions, the Atlantic Council hosted a high-profile panel of experts and leaders on Monday, May 1, 2017. Atlantic Council Millennium Leadership Fellow Manuel Muniz joined Ambassador John Negroponte and Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher to discuss what is next for the Trump administration
    and US foreign policy. John Hudson of BuzzFeed News moderated the event.


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  • Putin is Not Russia

    US senators, Russian opposition activist call for calibrated pressure on Vladimir Putin

    Two US senators—one a Republican and the other a Democrat—and a Russian opposition activist who has survived two apparent attempts on his life made a call for greater international pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin to respect human rights. Speaking at the Atlantic Council on March 30, all three stated quite clearly that even as this pressure is applied, care must be taken not to hurt the Russian people in the process.

    Vladimir Kara-Murza, an ardent critic of Putin who has twice slipped into a coma after mysteriously falling ill—once in 2015 and more recently in February—said it was important to turn up the heat on Putin and his cronies, but noted that it is equally important not to equate Putin’s regime with the Russian people.

    “We’re against sanctions on Russia. We’re against sanctions on the Russian people,” said Kara-Murza, vice chairman of Open Russia. “It is essential that the US is not seen as seeking to punish the Russian people for the actions of a regime that they can neither unseat in a free election—because we don’t have any—and cannot hold to account through independent media or a legitimate parliament—because we don’t have any either,” he added.

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  • Reforming the H1B Visa System: A Conversation with Congressman Darrell Issa

    The Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center hosted a discussion at the Capitol Hill with Congressman Darell Issa. Moderated by Dr. Bharath Gopalaswamy, director of the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center, the conversation focused on Congressman Issa's proposed legislation to review the H-1B program and ways to strengthen it.   

    Critics contend that systemic weaknesses in the H-1B program allow companies to import cheap foreign labor at the expense of US workers. As the primary recipients of H-1B visas, skilled Indian workers would be most significantly impacted by changes to the program. Congressman Issa expressed his views on the reform with the Atlantic Council's South Asia Center. 


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  • Congressman Adam Kinzinger on the US Role in the Middle East and the World

    On March 17, 2017, the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center hosted a discussion with Congressman Adam Kinzinger to discuss America’s role in the Middle East and the world. Ambassador Frederic C. Hof, director of the Hariri Center, moderated the event.

    Kinzinger began by emphasizing that self-governance should be one of America’s mission statements for the world. He said that the Soviet Union’s dissolution was mainly due to the change in ideas among its citizens: the Soviet people saw Western life as a model and started to demand their freedom from the Soviet government. Kinzinger noted, however, that unlike during the Cold War era, there are now multiple “iron curtains” such as ISIS, authoritarian regimes, and discrimination. He explained that another mission statement of America should be to recognize those curtains and pull them down, and underscored that America’s most important goal in the Middle East should be to bring freedom.

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  • 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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