Mitch McConnell on Foreign Policy
Republican Sr Senator (KY)
1985: Led anti-apartheid bill through Senate
Mitch McConnell's foreign policy transformation is one of the bigger untold political stories of this election year. McConnell's signature anti-apartheid bill is an example of these seeming contradictions. As a Southern freshman, he spoke out strongly in
July 1985: "Many people might overlook or discount the significant internal political turbulence which has scarred the last decade of South African history," McConnell said. "But apartheid & the severity of life under its discriminatory weight is not a
problem we can continue to wish 8,199 miles away. We are a nation and international community bound together by principles of freedom, equality and justice," he added. "I share a commitment to those values and I am troubled by the inevitable damaging
consequences of their betrayal."
But the same passion is entirely missing in a 2009 McConnell biography: McConnell's South Africa stance is described as one calculated to "demonstrate his political independence" from the lame-duck Ronald Reagan.
Source: Politico.com e-zine on 2014 Kentucky Senate race
, Mar 26, 2014
1983: Don't give away the Panama Canal
In August 1983, Senator Huddleston knew very little about McConnell. McConnell officially announced his Senate candidacy in a mid-January "fly around" of five Kentucky cities.
He attacked Huddleston's record as "mediocre at best" and blasted him for everything from the federal deficit to the "giveaway" of the Panama Canal.
Source: Republican Leader, by John Dyche, p. 51
, Sep 15, 2010
Opposed "Moscow-centric" focus on former Soviet Union
From his post on the Foreign Operations Subcommittee, McConnell opposed what he saw as a "Moscow-centric" focus on the former Soviet Union and excessive personalization of America's relationship with Russia. He believed America's goals in the
region should include not only preventing Russia from reemerging as a threat, but also aggressively supporting the democratic development of other post-Soviet states, including Ukraine, Armenia, and Georgia in particular.
He therefore did his best to earmark foreign assistance bills to help those nations, and his
efforts were as successful as they could be given that he was toiling in the minority.
Source: Republican Leader, by John Dyche, p. 95-6
, Sep 15, 2010
Voted YES 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-S211
on Oct 1, 2008
Voted YES on enlarging NATO to include Eastern Europe.
H.R. 3167; Gerald B. H. Solomon Freedom Consolidation Act of 2001, To endorse the vision of further enlargement of the NATO Alliance. Vote to pass a bill that would support further expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, authorize military assistance to several eastern European countries and lift assistance restrictions on Slovakia.
; vote number 2002-116
on May 17, 2002
Voted NO on killing a bill for trade sanctions if China sells weapons.
Vote to table [kill] an amendment that would require sanctions against China or other countries if they were found to be selling illicit weapons of mass destruction.
; vote number 2000-242
on Sep 13, 2000
Voted YES on capping foreign aid at only $12.7 billion.
Adoption of the conference report on the 2000 Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill provided $12.7 billion for foreign aid programs in 2000.
Vetoed by President ClintonVeto message of 10/18/1999: W cannot protect American interests at home without active engagement abroad. We must lead in the world, working with other nations to defuse crises, repel dangers, promote more open economic and political systems, and strengthen the rule of law. This bill rejects all of those principles.
The overall funding provided by H.R. 2606 is inadequate. By denying America a decent investment in diplomacy, this bill suggests we should meet threats to our security with our military might alone. That is a dangerous proposition. For if we underfund our diplomacy, we will end up overusing our military.
For example, A generation from now, no one is going to say we did too much to help the nations of the former Soviet Union safeguard their nuclear technology and expertise. If the funding cuts in this bill were to become law, future generations would certainly say we did too little and that we imperiled our future in the process.
Reference: H.R. 2606 Conference Report;
Bill H.R. 2606
; vote number 1999-312
on Oct 6, 1999
Status: Conf Rpt Agreed to Y)51; N)49
Voted YES on limiting the President's power to impose economic sanctions.
To kill a proposal limiting President Clinton's ability to impose economic sanctions on foreign nations.
Status: Motion to Table Agreed to Y)53; N)46; NV)1
Reference: Motion to table the Lugar Amdt #3156.;
Bill S. 2159
; vote number 1998-201
on Jul 15, 1998
Voted NO on limiting NATO expansion to only Poland, Hungary & Czech.
This amendment would have limited NATO Expansion to only include Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
Status: Amdt Rejected Y)41; N)59
Reference: NATO Expansion limit-Warner Amdt. #2322;
Bill NATO Expansion Treaty #105-36
; vote number 1998-112
on Apr 30, 1998
Voted YES on $17.9 billion to IMF.
Would provide $17.9 billion for the International Monetary Fund.
Status: Amdt Agreed to Y)84; N)16
Reference: McConnell Amdt #2100;
Bill S. 1768
; vote number 1998-44
on Mar 26, 1998
Voted YES on Strengthening of the trade embargo against Cuba.
Strengthening of the trade embargo against Cuba.
Status: Conf Rpt Agreed to Y)74; N)22; NV)4
Reference: Conference Report on H.R. 927;
Bill H.R. 927
; vote number 1996-22
on Mar 5, 1996
Voted YES on ending Vietnam embargo.
Ending U.S. trade embargos on the country of Vietnam.
Status: Amdt Agreed to Y)62; N)38
Reference: For. Reltns. Auth. Act FY 94 & 95;
Bill S. 1281
; vote number 1994-5
on Jan 27, 1994
Impose sanctions and an import ban on Burma.
McConnell co-sponsored imposing sanctions and an import ban on Burma
A bill to impose sanctions on officials of the State Peace and Development Council in Burma, to prohibit the importation of gemstones and hardwoods from Burma, & to promote a coordinated international effort to restore civilian democratic rule to Burma.
(The two Senate versions currently differ in wording). The Saffron Revolution Support Act states that it is U.S. policy to:
Directs the President to submit to the appropriate congressional committees a list of:
- support the democratic aspirations of Burma's people;
- condemn the repression carried out by the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC); and
- hold accountable individuals responsible for the repression of peaceful political activity in Burma.
- SPDC officials who play or have played a substantial role in political repression in Burma or in the commission of human rights abuses;
- Subjects persons so identified to U.S. entry prohibition and financial sanctions.
- Amends the
Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003 to prohibit the importation into the US of Burmese gems, teak, or other hardwood timber.
- Prohibits any U.S. person or corporation from investing in Burma.
Introductory statement by Sponsor:
Sen. McCAIN. The world has reacted with horror and revulsion at the Burmese junta's recent brutal crackdown against peaceful demonstrators. In crushing the Saffron Revolution, killing hundreds and jailing thousands, including countless Buddhist monks, the junta has left no doubt about its blatant disregard for basic human decency. We, as Americans, stand on the side of freedom, not fear; of peace, not violence; and of the millions in Burma who aspire to a better life, not those who would keep them isolated and oppressed. Our response must go beyond statements of condemnation, and the time to act is now. This legislation imposes meaningful and effective punitive action against the cruel, thuggish, and illegitimate Burmese government.
Source: Burma Democracy Promotion Act (S.2257 & S.2172) 07-S2257 on Oct 29, 2007
Rated 0 by AAI, indicating a mixed Arab/Palestine voting record.
McConnell scores 0 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. Though not comprehensive, we have attempted to provide a snapshot of legislation concerning many of the primary issues concerning Arab Americans. For the Senate, we have included 10 items: two bills on the Arab Spring, three on Palestine, one on Lebanon, one regarding civil liberties, and two for immigration reform.
Source: AAI website 12-AAI-S on May 2, 2012
- S. Res. 44: (+) calls on former President Hosni Mubarak to immediately begin a peaceful transition to a democratic political system
- S. Res. 109: (+) honoring and supporting women in North Africa and the Middle East
- S. Res. 138: (-) calling on the United Nations to rescind the Goldstone report, formally known as the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, which accused the Israeli government of targeting Palestinian civilians.
- S. Res. 185: (-) reaffirming the commitment of the US to a
negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and calling for a US veto of any UN resolution on Palestinian statehood without a settlement.
- S. Con. Res. 23: (-) supporting Israel in maintaining defensible borders, and against Israel returning to the armistice lines that existed on June 4, 1967
- S. 558: (+) the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act, to limit the use of cluster munitions in areas normally inhabited by civilians.
- S. 1125: (+) greater judicial review of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and greater protections to individuals being monitored or gag-ordered by the FBI.
- S.1038, the PATRIOT Sunsets Extension Act, in opposition of PATRIOT Act extension.
- S. 723: (-) The Birthright Citizenship Act, limiting citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants born in the US.
- S. 952: (+) the DREAM Act, allowing undocumented minors to become US citizens, provided they meet certain conditions, including good moral character
Call for Burma's junta to release political prisoners.
McConnell sponsored calling for Burma's junta to release political prisoners
Source: Aung San Suu Kyi Resolution (S.RES.250) 2007-SR250 on Jun 22, 2007
- WHEREAS Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has dedicated her life to the peaceful, non-violent movement for democracy and reconciliation in the Union of Burma;
- WHEREAS Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy won a majority of parliamentary seats in Burma's last election held in 1990;
- WHEREAS the State Peace and Development Council of Burma refuses to cede power and permit representative government and has detained Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for 11 of the last 17 years;
- WHEREAS the ruling military junta has committed numerous, well-documented atrocities against the people of Burma;
- WHEREAS Aung San Suu Kyi continues to promote peaceful dialogue and reconciliation despite mistreatment from the State Peace and Development Council;
- WHEREAS the United States recognizes and supports the dedication and commitment to freedom demonstrated by Aung San Suu Kyi:
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That the Senate--
- (1) honors Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi for her courage and devotion to the people of the Union of Burma and their struggle for democracy; and
- (2)calls for the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners by the State Peace and Development Council.
Pressure friendly Arab states to end Israeli boycott.
McConnell signed Schumer-Graham letter to Secy. Rice from 79 Congress members
Dear Secretary Rice,
Source: Schumer-Graham letter to Secy. Rice from 79 Congress members 2010-LT-AR on Oct 2, 2007
In the past, the lack of sufficient support from [non-participating] Arab states have made it difficult to reach agreements [on the Arab-Israeli conflict]. You should press friendly Arab countries that have not yet done so, to:
- Participate in the upcoming international meeting and be a full partner of the US in advancing regional peace
- Take visible, meaningful steps in the financial, diplomatic and political arena to help Palestinian President Abbas govern effectively and meet obligations to fight terror
- Stop support for terrorist groups and cease all anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incitement
- Recognize Israel's right to exist and not use such recognition as a bargaining chip for future Israeli concessions
- End the Arab League economic boycott of Israel in all of its forms
- Pressure Hamas to recognize Israel, reject terror, and accept prior agreements, and isolate Hamas until it takes such steps.
Page last updated: Jan 23, 2016