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Richard Durbin on Foreign Policy

Democratic Sr Senator (IL)


Voted YES on cooperating with India as a nuclear power.

Congressional Summary:US-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Nonproliferation Enhancement Act:

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; Bill HR.7081 ; 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.
Reference: Bill HR.3167 ; vote number 2002-116 on May 17, 2002

Voted YES 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.
Reference: Bill HR.4444 ; vote number 2000-242 on Sep 13, 2000

Voted NO 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 Clinton

Veto 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.
Status: Conf Rpt Agreed to Y)51; N)49

Reference: H.R. 2606 Conference Report; Bill H.R. 2606 ; vote number 1999-312 on Oct 6, 1999

Voted NO 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

Multi-year commitment to Africa for food & medicine.

Durbin co-sponsored the Hunger to Harvest bill:

    In an effort to reduce hunger in sub-Saharan Africa, urges the President to:

  1. set forth five-year and ten-year strategies to achieve a reversal of current levels of hunger and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, including a commitment to contribute an appropriate U.S. share of increased bilateral and multilateral poverty-focused resources for sub-Saharan Africa, with an emphasis on health (including HIV-AIDS prevention and treatment), education, agriculture, private sector and free market development, democratic institutions and the rule of law, micro-finance development, and debt relief; and

  2. work with the heads of other donor countries and sub-Saharan African countries and with private and voluntary organizations and other civic organizations to implement such strategies; and calls for

  3. Congress to undertake a multi-year commitment to provide the resources to implement those strategies; and

  4. the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development to report on such implementation.
Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HCR102 on Apr 4, 2001

Monitor human rights in Uganda-Sudan crisis.

Durbin sponsored the Northern Uganda Crisis Response Act

    Expresses the sense of Congress that the United States should:
  1. support efforts for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in northern and eastern Uganda;
  2. work with the Government of Uganda and the international community to make available sufficient resources to meet the relief and development needs of the towns and cities that are supporting large numbers of displaced people;
  3. urge the leaders and members of the Lord's Resistance Army to stop the abduction of children, and urge all armed forces in Uganda to stop the use of child soldiers, and seek the release of all individuals who have been abducted;
  4. urge the Government of Uganda to improve the professionalism of Ugandan military personnel currently stationed in northern and eastern Uganda, with an emphasis on respect for human rights and civilian protection;
  5. work with the international community to assist and increase the capacity of Ugandan civil institutions to monitor the human rights situation in northern Uganda;
  6. make clear that the relationship between Sudan and the United States cannot improve unless no credible evidence indicates that authorities of the Government of Sudan are providing support to the Lord's Resistance Army.
Became Public Law No: 108-283.
Source: Bill sponsored by 9 Senators 04-S2264 on Mar 31, 2004

Sponsored aid bill to avert humanitarian crisis in Congo.

Durbin introduced increasing aid to avert humanitarian crisis in Congo

OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY:

SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. OBAMA: There is a country embroiled in conflict that has not yet received the high-level attention or resources it needs. It's the Democratic Republic of Congo, and right now it is in the midst of a humanitarian catastrophe.

31,000 people are dying in the Congo each month and 3.8 million people have died in the previous 6 years. The country, which is the size of Western Europe, lies at the geographic heart of Africa and borders every major region across the continent. If left untended, Congo's tragedy will continue to infect Africa.

I believe that the United States can make a profound difference in this crisis. According to international aid agencies, there are innumerable cost-effective interventions that could be quickly undertaken--such as the provision of basic medical care, immunization and clean water--that could save thousands of lives. On the political front, sustained U.S. leadership could fill a perilous vacuum.

EXCERPTS OF BILL:

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Became Public Law No. 109-456

Source: Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act (S.2125) 05-S2125 on Dec 16, 2005

Suspend Russia's participation in the G-8.

Durbin co-sponsored suspending Russia's participation in the G-8

OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: A resolution expressing the sense of Congress that the continued participation of the Russian Federation in the Group of 8 nations should be conditioned on the Russian Government voluntarily accepting and adhering to the norms and standards of democracy.

EXCERPTS OF BILL:

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Foreign Relations; never came to a vote.

Source: Russia in the Group of 8 (S.CON.RES.14/H.CON.RES.143) 05-SC14 on Feb 17, 2005

Impose sanctions and an import ban on Burma.

Durbin 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:

  1. support the democratic aspirations of Burma's people;
  2. condemn the repression carried out by the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC); and
  3. hold accountable individuals responsible for the repression of peaceful political activity in Burma.
Directs the President to submit to the appropriate congressional committees a list of:
  1. SPDC officials who play or have played a substantial role in political repression in Burma or in the commission of human rights abuses;
  2. Subjects persons so identified to U.S. entry prohibition and financial sanctions.
  3. Amends the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003 to prohibit the importation into the US of Burmese gems, teak, or other hardwood timber.
  4. 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

Implement Darfur Peace Agreement with UN peacekeeping force.

Durbin introduced implementing Darfur Peace Agreement with UN peacekeeping force

Source: S.RES.455 08-SR455 on Feb 14, 2008

Seeds of Peace: promote coexistence in regions of conflict.

Durbin co-sponsored Seeds of Peace: promote coexistence in regions of conflict

A resolution recognizing the 15th anniversary of the founding of Seeds of Peace, an organization promoting understanding, reconciliation, acceptance, coexistence, & peace in the Middle East, South Asia, and other regions of conflict.

Legislative Outcome: Related bill: H.CON.RES.337; agreed to in Senate, by Unanimous Consent.
Source: S.RES.536 08-SR536 on Apr 28, 2008

Rated +5 by AAI, indicating pro-Arab pro-Palestine voting record.

Durbin scores +5 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.

  1. S. Res. 44: (+) calls on former President Hosni Mubarak to immediately begin a peaceful transition to a democratic political system
  2. S. Res. 109: (+) honoring and supporting women in North Africa and the Middle East
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. S. Con. Res. 23: (-) supporting Israel in maintaining defensible borders, and against Israel returning to the armistice lines that existed on June 4, 1967
  6. S. 558: (+) the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act, to limit the use of cluster munitions in areas normally inhabited by civilians.
  7. 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.
  8. S.1038, the PATRIOT Sunsets Extension Act, in opposition of PATRIOT Act extension.
  9. S. 723: (-) The Birthright Citizenship Act, limiting citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants born in the US.
  10. S. 952: (+) the DREAM Act, allowing undocumented minors to become US citizens, provided they meet certain conditions, including good moral character
Source: AAI website 12-AAI-S on May 2, 2012

Vigorous support for State of Israel against Hamas in Gaza.

Durbin co-sponsored Resolution for Israeli Self-Defense

RESOLUTION expressing vigorous support and unwavering commitment to the welfare, security, and survival of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state with secure borders:

    Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the Congress:
  1. expresses unwavering commitment to the security of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state with secure borders, and recognizes and strongly supports its inherent right to act in self-defense to protect its citizens against acts of terrorism;
  2. reiterates that Hamas must end Gaza-linked terrorist rocket and missile attacks against Israel, recognize Israel's right to exist, renounce violence, and agree to accept previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinians;
  3. urges the UN Security Council to condemn the recent spike in Gaza-linked terrorist missile attacks against Israel, which risk causing civilian casualties in both Israel and Gaza; and
  4. encourages the President to continue to work diplomatically with the international community to prevent Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorist organizations from retaining or rebuilding the capability to launch rockets and missiles against Israel.
Source: SR599/HR813 12-SRes599 on Nov 16, 2012

Acknowledge the Armenian Genocide of the early 1900s.

Durbin sponsored acknowledging the Armenian Genocide of the early 1900s

Sen. DURBIN: The definition of "genocide" is "the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group." Scholars agree that what the Armenian people suffered in 1915 to 1917 fits the definition of genocide. To date, 19 countries and 37 US states recognize the Armenian Genocide. Genocide is wrong. It is evil. It is evil whether its victims are Armenians, Sudanese, Rwandan Tutsis, Cambodians or European Jews. Not to acknowledge genocide for what it is denigrates the memory of its victims. Recognition of genocide is part of the healing process. Official recognition will reaffirm our tradition of protecting the vulnerable and inspire us to not stand by and watch as genocide occurs in our time.
Source: Armenian Genocide Resolution (S.RES.106/H.RES.106) 2007-SR106 on Mar 14, 2007

Condemn violence by Chinese government in Tibet.

Durbin co-sponsored condemning the violence by Chinese government in Tibet

A resolution condemning the violence in Tibet and calling for restraint by the Government of the People's Republic of China and the people of Tibet. Calls for:

  1. a dialogue between the government of China and His Holiness the Dalai Lama on religious and cultural autonomy for Tibet within China; and
  2. release of peaceful protesters.
    Calls on the PRC to:
  1. respect the right of the people of Tibet to speak of the Dalai Lama and possess his photograph;
  2. respect basic human rights;
  3. allow international journalists free access to China; and
  4. provide a full accounting of the March 2008 protests in Tibet.
Urges that the agreement permitting the PRC to open further diplomatic missions in the United States should be contingent upon establishment of a U.S. government office in Lhasa, Tibet.
Source: S.RES.504 2008-SR504 on Apr 7, 2008

Sanction Mugabe until Zimbabwe transitions to democracy.

Durbin co-sponsored sanctioning Mugabe until Zimbabwe transitions to democracy

A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate regarding the political situation in Zimbabwe. Expresses the sense of the Senate:

  1. supporting the people of Zimbabwe;
  2. that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission should immediately release the legitimate results of the presidential election and ratify the previously announced results of the parliamentary elections;
  3. that President Robert Mugabe should accept the will of the people of Zimbabwe in order to effect a timely and peaceful transition to democratic rule;
  4. that the U.S. government and the international community should impose targeted sanctions against individuals in the government of Zimbabwe and state security services and militias who are responsible for human rights abuses and election interference;
  5. that the U.S. government and the international community should work together to prepare an economic and political recovery package for Zimbabwe;
  6. that regional organizations should play an active role in resolving the crisis; and
  7. that the U.N. Security Council should support efforts to bring about a peaceful resolution of the crisis and impose an international arms embargo on Zimbabwe until a legitimate democratic government has taken power.
Source: S.RES.533&H.RES.1230 2008-SR533 on Apr 24, 2008

Allow travel between the United States and Cuba.

Durbin signed Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act

Prohibits the President from regulating or prohibiting travel to or from Cuba by U.S. citizens or legal residents or any of the transactions ordinarily incident to such travel, except in time of war or armed hostilities between the United States and Cuba, or of imminent danger to the public health or the physical safety of U.S. travelers.

Source: S.428&HR.874 2009-S428 on Feb 12, 2009

Condemn Iran for state-sponsored persecution of Baha'i.

Durbin signed bill condemning Iran for persecution of Baha'i

    Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the Senate and House of Representatives
  1. condemns the Government of Iran for its state-sponsored persecution of its Baha'i minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights;
  2. calls on the Government of Iran to immediately release the seven leaders and all other prisoners held solely on account of their religion; and
  3. calls on the President and Secretary of State, in cooperation with the international community, to immediately condemn Iran's continued violation of human rights.
    Source: SR71&HR175 2009-SR71 on Feb 13, 2009

    Pressure friendly Arab states to end Israeli boycott.

    Durbin signed Schumer-Graham letter to Secy. Rice from 79 Congress members

      Dear Secretary Rice,
      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:
    1. Participate in the upcoming international meeting and be a full partner of the US in advancing regional peace
    2. Take visible, meaningful steps in the financial, diplomatic and political arena to help Palestinian President Abbas govern effectively and meet obligations to fight terror
    3. Stop support for terrorist groups and cease all anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incitement
    4. Recognize Israel's right to exist and not use such recognition as a bargaining chip for future Israeli concessions
    5. End the Arab League economic boycott of Israel in all of its forms
    6. Pressure Hamas to recognize Israel, reject terror, and accept prior agreements, and isolate Hamas until it takes such steps.
    Source: Schumer-Graham letter to Secy. Rice from 79 Congress members 2010-LT-AR on Oct 2, 2007

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    Page last updated: Aug 11, 2014