Foreign Policy and National Security

At a critical time for our country’s place in the world and the security of our nation, I am the only candidate in this race who has worked as a national security professional. For 13 years, I served as a naval intelligence analyst, and became a leader within the Intelligence Community. For five years, I led the Intelligence Community effort to combat the spread of weapons of mass destruction from countries including North Korea and arms smuggling to terrorist groups and conflict zones by sea. In that role I represented America by leading intelligence teams and delegations meeting with partners abroad. I also served in a role within the Office of the Secretary of Defense where I oversaw the analysis and tradecraft of agencies including the National Security Agency (NSA), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) and others. In that role I also worked within the Department of Defense’s policy formulation and planning, programming, budget and execution process.

I understand the challenges and opportunities we face in the world. I believe in an America with a foreign policy grounded in our values of freedom, human rights, and protection of the vulnerable. I will aim to use my intelligence and defense background to be an effective messenger for increases in resources to our diplomatic, development, and democracy promotion efforts to balance our focus on defense.

My initial proposals:

Restore America as a leader and partner in the world: I will use my platform in Congress to push the Administration – particularly the State Department and the Department of Defense – to assert American leadership in partnership with our friends and in challenge to authoritarian regimes and shared global problems.

Restore our alliances and support our allies to enhance security and prosperity: Having worked in the intelligence community for 13 years, I understand how critical our alliances that are grounded in our values are to our national security, to counterterrorism efforts, and to economic prosperity for the working and middle class of Massachusetts and the country. I will use my platform in Congress, my seat in relevant Congressional committees, and meetings with foreign parliamentarians and other delegations to help protect and restore America’s partnerships abroad.

Make human rights an integral part of our foreign policy: As a national security professional and a transgender woman, I will be a visible champion of human rights as an essential component of U.S. foreign policy and a key attribute in how we characterize our partnerships with foreign governments. It is not just about our values, it is about effectiveness and long-term strategy. When the United States stands behind partners that are not actively seeking to bring more freedom, inclusion and opportunity to their people, American interests will suffer in the long run. I will use my platform in Congress, powers of oversight and budget to put pressure on allies who abuse human rights, and to condition foreign aid and especially foreign military aid accordingly.

Maintain a strong defense by reform and making tough choices: The United States has and must maintain the strongest military force in the world. I will vote for budgets that reverse the Trump Administration's unnecessary military buildup and instead ensure we are providing our current force structure the operational and maintenance funds they need to maximize effectiveness. Congress has forced DoD to purchase hardware and weapons systems that they do not need and bases our admirals and generals and senior civilians do not want. I will seek greater oversight of the F-35 contract and vote for another round of consolidation and closure of military installations via a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission, as the Department of Defense has requested for years and Congress has ignored.

Write and pass honest DoD budgets – end Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding and account for our real needs in the DoD base budget: Since 9/11, we have spent $1.7 trillion of public money via OCO funding, obfuscating the real cost of our military operations abroad. OCO was designed to address unplanned needs. America has been at war for 17 years. We need a DoD budget which is honest with the American people.

Expand U.S. investments in global health programs-- it is moral leadership and good for our national security: Improving global health security-- from infectious disease prevention to supporting better ongoing medical care is one of the highest possible returns on investment for taxpayer dollars in terms of conflict prevention, conflict resolution, and the assertion of U.S. soft power leadership. The imperative for increasing this assistance is only compounded by the fact that climate change in the coming decades will put the greatest strain and threaten health security in countries and regions least capable of bearing it. This, in turn, increases the threat to global security, but also increases the opportunity for U.S. leadership in accordance with our deepest values. In Congress, I will not only stand up against the current Administration's attacks on global health funding-- which has been nearly flat for eight years-- I will seek to expand it. I will introduce or support legislation to expand funding beyond the FY2010 high point for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, as well as other CDC, HHS, NIH, State, USAID and DoD funding lines supporting maternal and reproductive health, neglected tropical diseases, and nutritional assistance. As part of my sustained commitment to these issues, formed in part by my previous experience on the board of a health center (Whitman Walker Health) with decades of focus on HIV/AIDS treatment, I will seek to join the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus and the Congressional Global Health Caucus.

Protect our critical infrastructure and economy by better mitigating cybersecurity risks and threats: I will support new legislation to enforce and resource the commitments in President Trump’s May 2017 executive order instructing federal agencies to investigate, assess and mitigate cybersecurity risks and threats. I will also support the PATCH Act, to ensure that the vulnerabilities equities process (VEP) by which potential hacking vulnerabilities are shared with other parties, is executed more transparently and with more of an emphasis toward protecting the general public and private business.

Freedom for all to serve in the military: I will defend the progress that has been made allowing women to serve in combat roles and for transgender people to serve openly within the military. I will use my powers of oversight and my platform as the first openly transgender member of Congress to ensure the Department of Defense is fully inclusive of all who desire to serve and meet the standards.

Standing up to Russian aggression: I will use my regional expertise on Russian and European affairs to raise the level of oversight on the Departments of State and Defense, to ensure we are taking Russia’s threats to the peace and security of our allies and to our democracy seriously and to deter and if need be retaliate appropriately against any further aggression on their part.

Promote multilateral institutions: I will vote for the United States to pay its dues in full and on time to the United Nations, and for our country to resume its leadership role in UNESCO and other multilateral forums

Support the Intelligence Community: I will vote for modest increases in Intelligence Community funding as a smart investment in national security with a high return on investment. I will vote to increase budgets for analytic personnel, retention incentives to stem personnel losses, and efforts to improve intelligence capabilities with artificial intelligence and machine learning. I will protect the Intelligence Community from bullying by this Administration, encourage increased intelligence cooperation with partners, and provide a voice in Congress to restore confidence in allies that have been gratuitously insulted by this Administration, had their interests ignored, or even had their sensitive information inappropriately disclosed.

Invest in diplomacy and development, increase the International Affairs Budget: I will propose a long overdue increase in our International Affairs Budget for the State Department, USAID and the Millennium Challenge Corporation: this will be cost-saving due to the earlier de-escalation of conflicts and earlier identification of security and economic opportunities. I will support increases in funding to programs to promote gender equality and empowerment for women around the world. This is both in accordance with our values and good for our national security and economic prosperity, as improvements in these areas correlate highly with reduced risk of conflict and instability.

End war on autopilot – repeal and replace the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF): I will vote for a repeal of the AUMF to replace it with a new authorization that would ensure Congress is meeting its constitutional responsibilities in making war, as well as to properly bound the limits of military action.

Restrict the first use of nuclear weapons, modernize our nuclear stockpile to a smaller force to minimize the chance of accidental nuclear war: I will leverage my 13 years of work against weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to help pass the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act, ensuring only Congress can authorize a nuclear first strike. I will argue for a smaller, modernized nuclear force of sea- and air-based nuclear weapons that would honor the spirit of our nuclear reduction commitments, encourage continued adherence to nuclear proliferation control regimes, and save resources while preserving our nuclear deterrent. This course of action would also save hundreds of billions over the Administration’s current plan to replace our entire nuclear stockpile with a massively increased nuclear force. I will also vote against any funding for low-yield nuclear weapons, which would encourage nuclear proliferation by other countries and increase the chances that a future President will use nuclear weapons.

Protect and improve healthcare for veterans: I will defend the Veteran's Administration against attempts to privatize it or impose costs on veterans and their families. I will support legislation and additional resources to improve staffing and service hours at Bedford. As part of moving to single payer healthcare, I will explore ways to incentivize more community health centers to sign up as Veterans Choice Act community providers, in order to improve both healthcare delivery capacity and speciality care-- especially in the areas of women's health and LGBT health where VA capability has not caught up with the changing demographics of our vets. I will support investments in the VA Center for Innovation and other initiatives to explore process improvements,  better online services, and ways to measure and incentivize effective, coordinated care, especially for veterans with multiple chronic physical and mental health conditions and/or substance dependency.