Jim’s interest in foreign affairs began in the late 1960s when he served in the U.S. Navy as a psychiatrist and treated soldiers returning from the Vietnam War. In 1987, Jim joined the Foreign Service as a Regional Medical Officer in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), where he provided psychiatric services to the Foreign Service, U.S. Agency for International Development, and Peace Corps personnel throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Jim’s experience in developing countries has informed his views on the critical role that the U.S. government plays in helping countries lift themselves out of poverty and in building global coalitions to address worldwide challenges.
In the U.S. House of Representatives, Jim has been a leading voice in global affairs, championing legislation on a wide range of topics such trade promotion, democracy and governance, U.S. military activities abroad and foreign assistance.
Jim was the principle author of the “Africa Growth and Opportunity Act,” which serves as our country’s trade arrangement with Africa and helps African nations build their economies. Jim is also the principal author of the “Conflict Minerals Trade Act” – legislation that is now law and requires transparency and good governance over the sourcing of minerals in Central Africa.
Jim understands that the job isn’t done yet – Africa needs more technical trade assistance, more support for democratic institutions, and more help with its public health systems, and he is committed to supporting initiatives that will help Africa in each of these areas.
Jim’s longstanding interest in Asia stems from his work with constituents of the 7th District, many of whom belong to the Asian-Pacific Islander (API) community. For many years, Jim represented the largest Filipino-American community in the country. Jim has been strongly supportive of establishing community organizations that serve the needs of the API community. Jim successfully le the effort to designate the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience as an affiliate area of the National Park Service.
Jim is the co-chair of the Congressional Indonesia Caucus, Congressional Mongolia Caucus, Congressional Central Africa Caucus, the Congressional Study Group on Japan, and the U.S.-Japan-South Korea Legislative Exchange Program run by George Washington University. Jim is a leading voice on trade matters related to Asia. In April 2011, Jim visited South Korea on a Congressional Delegation with Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke to discuss the U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement.
In November 2012, Jim led the U.S. delegation to an annual democracy forum in Indonesia at the request of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Jim has spoken at think tanks in Washington, D.C. on a wide range of topics, including India-Pakistan relations, U.S.-Indonesia relations, and trade agreements with Asian countries.
Jim’s interest in human rights has guided his work in Congress, and he has been particularly active in human rights issues in Latin America. In 1990, at the height of the country’s brutal civil war, Jim led a congressional delegation to El Salvador to promote the safety of medical workers in the country and to assess whether the United States should continue its military assistance to the country. The following year, Jim introduced the “Peace, Democracy and Development in El Salvador Act,” which called for an end to U.S. military aid to El Salvador and called for preservation of internationally recognized norms of medical neutrality. In July 2011, Jim introduced the bipartisan bill, “Medical Neutrality Protection Act of 2011,” in response to attacks against doctors and medical professionals in foreign countries. Jim will reintroduce this legislation in the 113th Congress.
More than ten years after the September 11th attacks, the United States has spent trillions of dollars in an effort to fight al-Qaeda in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Jim was one of the most vocal opponents of the U.S. invasion of Iraq undertaken by President George W. Bush. Long before the American public learned that the Bush Administration had deliberately misrepresented the intelligence and the threat from Iraq, Jim correctly argued that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and no justification for war against that country.
Jim supports President Obama's plan to end the war in Afghanistan by 2014. In February 2013, Jim co-authored an op-ed (add link) with Lawrence Wilkerson, the former chief of staff to Colin Powell, on the need to learn from our experience in Iraq when planning for withdrawal in Afghanistan.
In July 2010, Jim voted against the Defense Department’s $59 billion emergency supplemental war-funding bill, which supported deployment of an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. Jim is an original cosponsor of several key legislation on Afghanistan, including the “Responsible End to the War in Afghanistan Act” (H.R. 780) and the “U.S.-Afghanistan Status of Forces Agreement” (H.R. 651). In May 2011, Jim voted in support of the McGovern/Jones amendment on Afghanistan to the FY2012 National Defense Authorization Act; the amendment provided a higher level of accountability on the status of the war and curtailed funding of the war. It nearly passed in the House.
In May 2012, the House adopted an amendment sponsored by Jim that requires the Department of Defense to develop a comprehensive plan on researching and documenting environmental exposure incidents to members of the Armed Forces. In July 2012, Jim successfully added an amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2013 that would increase funding for suicide prevention outreach in the Defense Department.
Among international challenges for U.S. foreign policy, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an especially difficult dispute. Jim has worked hard to become well-informed about this situation, traveling to the region many times in an ongoing effort to better understand its deep complexities. Jim embraces the universally shared quest for self-determination, which inspired pro-democracy uprisings throughout the Middle East in early 2011. He is committed to Israel’s ongoing success as a thriving democracy and understands that peace and security for all parties is critical to resolving this long-standing conflict. Jim was an early supporter of President Obama’s vision of a two-state solution. His statement of support can be found by clicking here. In January 2010, Jim led the letter, known as “The Gaza 54,” in which 54 Members of Congress called on President Obama to press for immediate relief for the Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip.
Jim supports security assistance to Israel. In the 112th Congress, Jim cosponsored the Iron Dome Support Act and will cosponsor the bill again in the 113th Congress.