Home 2018 Elections Wednesday News: So Much for N. Korea Summit?; Historic Win for Stacey...

Wednesday News: So Much for N. Korea Summit?; Historic Win for Stacey Abrams in GA; RIP Philip Roth; Judge Rules for Gavin Grimm


by Lowell

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, May 23.

  • Abigail Spanberger (D-VA07) out with second TV ad, “Get Things Done”


  • Connolly Statement in Advance of Today’s House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing With Secretary of State Pompeo

    Washington, D.C. –Congressman Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA), a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released the following statement in advance of tomorrow’s hearing with Secretary of State Pompeo, “ Strengthening American Diplomacy: Reviewing the State Department’s Budget, Operations, and Policy Priorities.”

    “President Trump’s FY 2019 international affairs budget continues the Trump Administration’s unilateral retreat from U.S. global leadership and doubles down on the reckless disinvestment in U.S. diplomacy and development in favor of American military might. As threats to U.S. national security grow around the world, the Trump Administration’s response is to retreat from our commitments, cut our financial and human resources, and sacrifice strategy for headlines. U.S. global leadership has never been more essential or more at risk.

    The Trump Administration has spent its first sixteen months in office systematically dismantling the hard won diplomatic commitments that bolster American security and prosperity. On his third day in office, President Trump withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would have deepened U.S. alliances in the Asia-Pacific and unlocked access to 40 percent of global GDP. In June 2017, Trump announced that the U.S. would pull out of the Paris climate accord, an agreement that has now been signed by every other nation on Earth. And earlier this month, the President abandoned the Iran nuclear deal, which will be recorded as one of the most sordid and reckless acts by a chief executive of this country. In doing so, he has ejected us from the deal without a parachute.

    This week, Secretary Pompeo announced a so-called “Plan B” for Iran, conceived as an afterthought and predicated on America’s shattered credibility to reconvene the parties for a “better deal.” Just like there is no better TPP, or better Paris climate accord, there will be no better Iran deal. The probability of a nuclear Iran has now risen exponentially just when we had it under control. And if that happens, the Saudis have indicated they will pursue a nuclear weapon too. And now we’re off to an arms race in the most volatile part of the world.

    Trump’s rejection of the Iran deal, despite Iranian compliance, has now set the standard of success for his high-risk gambit with North Korea – absolute denuclearization, absolutely verifiable. Anything short of that is a failure, by his own new standard. The President’s impulsive agreement to a summit with Kim Jong-un instantly strengthened the regime in Pyongyang and gained no concessions in return.

    Last week, the North Korean regime’s reaction to joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises exposed the precarious footing of these negotiations. The failure of this presidential summit would cause lasting damage to the prestige of the Office of the President and could be used by the Trump Administration to justify kinetic action on the Korean Peninsula.

    Meanwhile, Trump still refuses to hold Russia accountable for its unprecedented and ongoing interference in American democracy, despite near unanimous agreement for such action among Congress, the American people, and his own Administration officials. That is why I, along with a majority of Democrats on this Committee, recently introduced a resolution calling upon President Trump to exercise mandatory sanctions authorities in response to Russia’s continued aggression in Ukraine, forcible and illegal annexation of Crimea, and assault on democratic institutions around the world. This resolution builds on the SECURE Our Democracy Act (H.R. 530), introduced by Ranking Member Engel and myself, which would sanction any foreign entity who unlawfully interferes with a federal election.

    Underlying each of these points of retreat is a failure to invest in the financial and human resources that are needed to effectively implement U.S. diplomatic and development efforts. The President’s FY 2019 budget proposes to slash the State Department and USAID’s budget by 30 percent. This request blatantly ignores that Congress, civilian and military leadership, and the American people summarily rejected similar draconian cuts in the Administration’s FY 2018 budget.

    Secretary Pompeo has taken the helm of a hollowed out diplomatic corps at the State Department. Recruitment is down, retirements are up, and vacancies are rampant. The number of Americans applying to take the Foreign Service exam in October 2017 dropped 33 percent from a year earlier. In recent months, State has lost nearly 35 percent of its most senior career leadership – Career Ambassadors and Career Ministers – our nation’s civilian equivalent of three and four-star generals. Only 25 percent of the 47 Senate-confirmable positions have been filled at departments and agencies supported by the International Affairs Budget. And 43 ambassadorships have not been named or confirmed, including in critical places like South Korea, Yemen, Turkey, Jordan, and the European Union. This dearth of diplomatic personnel leaves critical gaps to American interests right now, but it is also a problem down the road. As Ambassador Ronald Neumann said, “The Foreign Service is like the military – if you don’t bring in lieutenants now, you don’t have the majors you need in 10 years and don’t have the colonels you need in 20.”

    The Trump Doctrine has emerged as one of unilateral retreat and empty promises that harm America. President Trump’s bombastic foreign policy has oscillated between “fire and fury” and a Nobel Peace Prize moonshot, leaving much to be desired with regard to substantive strategy to protect U.S. interests. Given the decimation of resources at State and increasing global flashpoints in the Trump era, Secretary Pompeo has his work cut out for him.”

  • From the Lindsey Davis Stover for VA-10 campaign:

    Lindsey Davis Stover Statement on Family in Santa Fe Shooting

    MCLEAN, VA – In response to her family’s involvement in last Friday’s shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, today Lindsey Davis Stover released the following statement:

    “On Friday, my three young cousins were in Santa Fe High School with an active shooter. My family waited anxiously to hear whether they were still inside the school or had made it out safely. I was furious, terrified, and uncertain – but not surprised. Because in America, school shootings are no longer unthinkable.

    Over the course of this race, I’ve spoken with hundreds of students who cite ‘guns in my classroom’ as their number one concern. I mailed an issue survey to thousands of families in VA-10, and over 900 were returned demanding gun reform.

    On Friday, all three of my cousins escaped when the shooting started. We were incredibly relieved, but my mind went to all the families who were waiting on similar calls that would never come.

    Like parents across America, I’m livid that my six-year-old daughter knows how to curl up in the corner of a classroom and put her backpack over her head. I’m furious at the constant stream of cowardice and empty rhetoric from our country’s leadership.

    Though science and public opinion around gun reform are crystal clear, Congress is riddled with lawmakers indebted to the gun lobby, so stagnation remains a hallmark of our politics. This is a national health crisis. An epidemic. Our children are dying. And the silence of inaction is deafening.

    Barbara Comstock has accepted over $137,000 from the National Rifle Association (NRA). She is responsible for protecting our kids, and she has not. On her watch, my six-year-old is learning how to dodge bullets and play dead.

    The moment for trying to sway the hearts and minds of Congress has passed. It’s time to change Congress itself.”

  • RobertColgan