After Tumultuous Midterm Cycle, Strong Signals for Internationalist Congress

November 7, 2018

As Washington scrambles to interpret the 2018 midterm election results – a season dominated by hyper-partisanship, spending that blew past $5 billion, and an unusually energized electorate that produced the first midterm in history to exceed 100 million votes – one thing is certain: there are two narratives about who won, a likely precursor to more gridlock in our soon-to-be divided government.For the USGLC, this election was never about a blue or red wave, but rather a critical question: Would the midterms bring an isolationist or internationalist wave? We set out 18 months ago to shape the answer and – spoiler alert – we are pleased that the 116th Congress to be sworn in on January 3rd looks like a Congress primed to once again reject isolationism.

As part of our nationwide foreign policy education initiative, SmartVote 2018, we aimed to talk with as many candidates as possible. With local business, veteran, faith, and community leaders from across the country, we met with more than 300 candidates and campaigns for the House and Senate – an unprecedented volume of engagement – to discuss the importance of global development and diplomacy for America’s economic and security interests.

Based on hundreds of face-to-face conversations, candidates embraced the importance of America’s role in the world, rejected isolationism, and most are heading to Washington with an appreciation for diplomacy and foreign assistance – ready to build upon the bipartisan legacy on global development of the last decade.

Our Top Takeaways

As Washington prepares for a divided Congress, here are our top election takeaways when it comes to America’s global leadership:

  1. Foreign Policy Not a Driver, But Still Matters

    BY THE NUMBERS. Foreign policy rarely drives voter priorities in midterm elections, and this cycle was no different with less than 1 in 5 voters citing “foreign policy” or “terrorism” as one of their most important issues. This contrasts with the 2016 presidential cycle, when exit polls found that foreign policy was either “extremely” or “very” important to 4 out of 5 voters.

    CAMPAIGN ADS. While hot button international issues – including increasing competition with China, trade, and tensions with North Korea, Iran, and Russia – certainly made headlines over the past year, these issues rarely took center stage on the campaign trail.

    • An analysis by the USGLC of television campaign ads through the end of October 2018 found that only 2% of more than 2.3 million ad runs had an “international affairs” theme.

    FOREIGN POLICY MATTERS. Voters rated health care and the economy as their top issues. An exception in the closing weeks of the race on foreign policy was the heightened attention to the migrant caravan from Central America along with calls for nationalism.

    • Yet despite the prioritization of the domestic agenda, voter sentiment about America’s global engagement remained extremely high. In a recent survey by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, 70% of Americans want the U.S. to play an “active role” in the world, the highest level since 1974, with the exception of immediately after the 9/11 attacks.
  2. Candidates Embrace U.S. Global Engagement

    STRONG INSTINCTS. In the more than 300 face-to-face meetings that USGLC leaders held with House and Senate candidates and their senior campaign advisors in some of the most competitive races across the country, candidates showed no signs of isolationism – even in an “America First” era and an election defined by domestic issues.

    • Instead, candidates displayed strong instincts that America must be engaged on the global stage. One Senate candidate from a traditional red state opened our meeting stating, “I am not an isolationist!” Another Senate candidate said, “I haven’t traveled very much, only to 48 countries.”

    BLANK SLATE. While several incoming members of the House have strong foreign policy experience – as veterans or from former government service – most candidates showed up to our meetings with limited foreign policy experience and expertise. However, they consistently arrived highly eager to learn and engage – taking time from the campaign trail to discuss foreign policy.

    • In meeting after meeting with local business, veteran, faith and community leaders, the return on investment for global engagement for their state and district resonated with candidates – and they were keen to learn more specifics.
    • Indicative of the meetings, one Senate candidate in a tight race said, “I couldn’t agree more with your positions. It is better to spend resources upfront and save lives than spend more money later and lose lives. You will not have to worry about my vote.”
  3. Foreign Aid Not An Issue, Candidates Receptive

    NON-ISSUE. Following the trend of most election cycles, foreign assistance largely remained out of the spotlight and was rarely mentioned during the vast majority of the 2018 campaign. In reviewing thousands of campaign ads, only one candidate – who lost in the primary – specifically mentioned cutting foreign assistance.

    CARAVAN FOCUS. As the migration debate surged in October on the campaign trail, the president called for cutting foreign assistance to Central America. While this was quickly countered by leading Members of Congress – like Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) – congressional candidates were surprised to learn that only 0.00035% of our federal budget addresses the Northern Triangle.

    CANDIDATES RECEPTIVE. Despite some candidates’ limited knowledge of global development, we encountered a broad openness to how effective U.S. foreign assistance can be an important tool in advancing America’s interests, especially given the global competition from China and their growing investments in the developing world.

    • As one Republican Senate candidate said in a meeting, “These are issues which align with my core beliefs…both a strong military and engagement on humanitarian needs are critical parts of an American global leadership strategy.”

    POLICY PLATFORMS. The USGLC also analyzed the web sites of candidates in the open and most competitive races this cycle and found that just about half of major party candidates featured a formal foreign policy or national security platform as an issue section. None advocated for foreign assistance cuts and close to a dozen House candidates mentioned America’s civilian toolkit, including diplomacy and global development programs.

    • Senator-elect Mitt Romney (R-UT), who has said he wants to join the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and speak out on the importance of America’s role abroad, stated in his campaign platform: “We must promote our values of freedom and free enterprise through our diplomacy, economic ties, alliances and other soft power tools.” Representative-elect Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), a former Navy helicopter pilot, stated “cuts to the State Department prevent us from dealing with developing international crises.”
  4. Committee Leadership Shifts with Key Retirements, Returning Friends

    DEPARTING CHAMPIONS. As the 115th Congress comes to a close, key foreign policy luminaries – including Chairmen Bob Corker (R-TN) and Ed Royce (R-CA) – are retiring and leaving big shoes to fill. Others champions leaving Congress include Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), Reps. Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Tim Walz (D-MN), and many others.

    MUSICAL CHAIRS. With leadership and committee contests now on the horizon, there will be plenty of drama in the House. Long-time champion State-Foreign Operations Appropriations leader Nita Lowey (D-NY) is expected to take the gavel of the full Committee, and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) will lead the way on Foreign Affairs.

    • Familiar faces are also in the mix vying for the ranking member seats on the House Appropriations and Foreign Affairs Committees, and the biggest upper chamber move – at the moment – is Senator Jim Risch (R-ID), who is expected to take the helm of the Foreign Relations Committee.

    For more on retirements, losses, returning friends, and committee shifts, see the House and Senate analyses.

  5. New Faces, Freshmen Veterans Set to Reshape Hill

    VETERAN VOICES. With more than 400 veterans having run this cycle – twice as many as past elections – engagement with these candidates underscored how veterans are consistently some of the most powerful champions for resources for America’s civilian overseas toolkit. The election now ushers into the House at least 17 new freshman veterans along with several former national security officials.

    NATIONAL SECURITY STANDOUTS. A number of winning House candidates will bring impressive backgrounds that can help drive support for international engagement:

    • Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) – Former Navy SEAL who has expressed support for civilian diplomatic and development agencies in partnership with Department of Defense
    • Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) – Former diplomat who served as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
    • Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) – Former Navy helicopter pilot, has called for a “fully-staffed State Department to carry out the hard, necessary work of strategic diplomacy”
    • Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) – Former CIA officer, who worked in the intelligence community during Bush and Obama Administrations
    • Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) – Former CIA officer, has called for supporting diplomats as part of U.S. national security strategy
    • Mike Waltz (R-FL) – Former Army Green Beret veteran, who authored the book Warrior Diplomat

    CHAMBER JUMP. Also of note, soon-to-be former House members headed to the Senate have shown real leadership, including Senators-elect Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) – along with both Arizona candidates, Reps. Martha McSally (R-AZ) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) who are currently in a race that is too close to call. See Senate section below for more details.

  6. Opportunities for Bipartisanship Despite Expected Gridlock

    NEXT MOVES. With a divided government, tension is expected to run high as House Democrats increase their oversight authority over the executive branch – with most pundits predicting that not a lot will get done on Capitol Hill. Yet, in addition to infrastructure, perhaps global development could once again be a unifying agenda for Republicans and Democrats.

    BIPARTISANSHIP? In recent years, lawmakers built a strong legacy, having passed close to a dozen pieces of bipartisan legislation to strengthen America’s global development investments around the world – from food security to energy to development finance to women and girls. This could be a bright spot to watch.

    BUDGET DEAL? Another area where policymakers could look to find the art of the deal is the ticking clock on next year’s spending levels. In the last Congress, Democrats and Republicans worked together to pass a two-year budget deal that lifted the 2011 spending caps, which will expire at the end of Fiscal Year 2019. Without a new deal to replace it, defense and non-defense programs will see deep cuts from sequestration.

  7. Long-Term Impact of Nationalism Debate in Closing Days: Unclear

    RHETORICAL WINDS. Themes from the “America First” 2016 campaign trail returned in the final weeks of the midterm, with the president focusing his closing arguments on nationalism, citing fears of the caravan and immigration issues. Pundits are still sorting through the data to decipher the impact of how these themes motivated voters in deep red states while turning off voters in swing suburban districts.

    • The fresh campaign rhetoric will continue to generate debate and impact our fabric as a nation – but how much this division will ultimately translate into policy or legislation remains to be seen.
  8. Countdown to 2020: 730 Days

    WHEELS UP. Campaign 2020 began in earnest this morning, as President Trump prepares to head overseas to mark the centennial anniversary of the end of World War I – followed by the G20 at the end of the month. This pace of international travel and continued engagements with leaders from Russia and North Korea, means foreign policy and national security will be thrust into the spotlight. As Democrats prepare their legislative agenda for the next Congress, nearly two dozen Democratic candidates are already testing the waters for their party’s presidential nomination.

    COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF. Inevitably, no presidential election can avoid a robust discussion on national security. While the diplomacy and development agenda in Congress has remained fiercely bipartisan, the highly polarized nature of the current political environment will put that tradition to the test. Against the backdrop of immense challenges and opportunities on the global stage, the 2020 campaign will showcase how it is more important than ever for America’s interests and values that we remain actively engaged and a leader in the world.

116th Congress: Key Takeaways

U.S. Senate: Republicans Increase their Majority

  1. RETURNING FRIENDS. We are pleased to welcome back several long-time members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Chris Murphy (D-CT). Other important allies who were re-elected to their Senate seats include Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Roger Wicker (R-MS).
  2. HOUSE CALL. The new class of freshman Senators will include a number of strong internationalist voices moving over from the House of Representatives, including Senators-elect Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV), who both have strong voting records in support of America’s development and diplomacy programs. While the Arizona Senate race is still too close to call, both Martha McSally (R-AZ) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) have been strong and consistent supporters of the International Affairs Budget.
  3. NEW FACES TO WATCH. In addition to the former House members, the freshman Senator from Utah, former Massachusetts Governor and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney (R-UT) has already indicated his desire to join the Senate Foreign Relations or Armed Services Committee. During the campaign, Senator-elect Romney called for advancing America’s interests and values around the world through strong diplomacy, alliances, and “soft power tools.” Should his lead hold throughout an upcoming recount in Florida’s Senate race, two-term Florida Governor Rick Scott (R), a U.S. Navy veteran, has been vocal about strengthening democracy and freedom in Latin America and has been active with World Vision in Kenya.

U.S. House: Democrats Gain Majority

  1. RETURNING CHAMPIONS. We are happy to welcome back literally hundreds of friends who were re-elected, including top leaders of the key foreign policy spending and authorizing committees – Reps. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Hal Rogers (R-KY) of the State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Details in the full analysis.
  2. VETERAN VOICE GROWS. The incoming freshman class includes at least 17 military veterans, whose experience has equipped them with an inherent understanding and appreciation for the importance of America’s civilian national security tools. Among them are Army Ranger Jason Crow (D-CO), former Navy Commander Elaine Luria (DVA), Army officer and Bronze Star recipient Max Rose (D-NY), and former Navy helicopter pilot Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ). These new faces will join an already strong contingent of veteran voices in the House including Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Seth Moulton (D-MA), and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) who have championed America’s civilian tools of development and diplomacy.
  3. PUBLIC SERVICE A PLUS. Many of the new freshmen have impressive backgrounds in public service – including in high-level foreign policy and national security positions – that will likely shape their views on American engagement. These include Donna Shalala (D-FL), a former Health and Human Services Secretary who played a leadership role in advancing PEPFAR; Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), a former diplomat and State Department appointee; Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), who held various national security roles; and Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), a former CIA operations officer.

New Faces in Washington


Mike Braun (R)

A business leader and two-term Indiana State Representative, Senator-elect Braun has articulated a foreign policy rooted in a strong military as best to keep America safe and lead on the world stage. He has said “From North Korea to Russia, despots and dictators are increasing instability and danger throughout the world. To combat the rising tide of uncertainty, a strong American military is needed more than ever before.” Senator-elect Braun “supports making sure our troops have the tools and equipment they need to protect America’s interests abroad and defeat ISIS terrorists where they live.” Throughout his senatorial campaign, Senator-elect Braun focused largely on domestic issues such as immigration, border security, the economy, and health care. He has not explicitly addressed the role of strategic investments in international development and diplomacy to advance America’s national security and economic interests. Senator-elect Braun has stated support for the President’s foreign policy approach saying “President Trump’s foreign policy of maximum pressure toward our enemies is getting results where career politicians have failed for decades.” In a recent debate, Senator-elect Braun said America’s success as a global leader is based upon “strength” and “if you draw a red line, you stick with it.”

As a businessman, Senator-elect Braun is keenly aware of the intricacies of the global market and benefits to opening foreign markets. On trade issues, he has said, “I take tariffs and their effects very seriously and would only employ such negotiation tools when absolutely necessary.”

Senator-elect Braun is the founder and CEO of Meyer Distributing, a truck parts and equipment distributor with global reach which has employed thousands of Americans across the United States. He began his business career after graduating from Harvard Business School in 1978, co-founding Crystal Farms, Inc., which subsequently became a large turkey producing farm in the Midwest. Prior to being elected to the U.S. Senate, he served in the Indiana House of Representatives from 2014 to 2017. The USGLC engaged with his campaign to discuss the Senator-elect’s business background and global economic engagement.


Josh Hawley (R)

Senator-elect Hawley comes to the U.S. Senate after having served as Attorney General of Missouri since 2017. During his campaign, Senator-elect Hawley described his view of America’s role in the world saying: “For too long we’ve had a policy of weakness and appeasement abroad. I don’t think we should go back to that…if you lead from behind you get left behind.”

While he supports American leadership and global engagement, Senator-elect Hawley is critical of politicians he sees as putting global progress ahead of American interests. In addressing immigration policy, he criticized establishment politicians saying, “They’ve become globalists first and Americans second.” He was endorsed by now-National Security Advisor John Bolton, who said of the Senator-elect “I know he will vote and advocate for a stronger national security and an America-first foreign policy,” to which Hawley responded saying, “American greatness begins with security and stability.”

Describing himself as a Constitutional and social conservative, Senator-elect Hawley spent much of his campaign focused on domestic issues, and has not publicly addressed many foreign policy and national security related issues, including his position on the use of America’s foreign assistance tools to advance our interests and values. While serving as Attorney General, however, Senator-elect Hawley focused resources on combating human trafficking. He established the Human Trafficking Task Force in Missouri, which created new tools for not only prosecuting human traffickers, but also identifying victims. He has said “Chances are you’ve been witness to a crime, it’s the epidemic of human trafficking…I’m determined to abolish this modern day slavery.” Recognizing that it is not only a domestic issue, he has said “The epidemic is also a global issue that trickles into Missouri territory through businesses.”

Prior to his election as Attorney General, he taught constitutional law at the University of Missouri Law School and served as senior counsel to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. He litigated and won two cases at the Supreme Court of the United States and was the co-counsel on Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. Before beginning law school, Senator-elect Hawley spent a year overseas teaching at a secondary school.


Jacky Rosen (D)

Senator-elect Rosen has been a steadfast supporter of American global leadership, saying a “smart and tough foreign policy is key to our national security.” Currently a member of the House Armed Services Committee, she has touted the importance of elevating all the tools of American power: a strong national defense alongside civilian-led development and diplomacy. Speaking on the importance of ensuring a robust State Department, Senator-elect Rosen has said, “If we’re going to be effective, then we must have capable policy experts and a diplomatic corps who can…execute our foreign policies.” She has also criticized efforts to cut or eliminate diplomatic posts calling them critical to protecting Americans.

During her term representing Nevada’s 3rd congressional district, Senator-elect Rosen amassed a strong record of support for the International Affairs Budget. During consideration of an FY18 omnibus spending bill, she voted against two amendments that would have cut America’s strategic investments in development and diplomacy. She also signed onto a letter with the House Armenian Caucus urging the rejection of harmful cuts to U.S. foreign assistance earlier this year. The letter stated, “At a time of tremendous global uncertainty, the U.S. should continue to foster the progress of its allies, not retreat from its responsibilities as the world’s leading democracy.” Responding to the Administration’s proposal to cut the FY19 International Affairs Budget by 30%, Senator-elect Rosen said, “I’m really concerned about this new budget and its significant cuts to the State Department. Combating the threat of North Korea, it’s going to require a lot of strong cooperation … just like we are heading off China’s attempts to become the world’s leading military and economic power. It’s going to necessitate us strengthening our alliances.” The USGLC has engaged with her and her staff in D.C. and in Nevada.

Before being elected to Congress, Senator-elect Rosen worked as a computer programmer, software developer, and designer for some of the biggest companies in Nevada including Summa Corporation, Citibank, and Southwest Gas Company.

North Dakota

Kevin Cramer (R)

A three-term Congressman, Senator-elect Cramer has been supportive of American global leadership saying, “I believe America leads best when it leads from a position of strength. Our enemies must know our resolve is ironclad and we will not back down in the face of aggression or terror.”

During his congressional tenure, Senator-elect Cramer has demonstrated a strong record of support for the International Affairs Budget. During consideration of an FY18 spending package, he voted against two amendments that would have cut spending for international development and diplomacy. He has also supported legislation to strengthen these programs, voting for the 2016 Global Food Security Act, the 2015 reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, the 2014 Electrify Africa Act, and the FY14 State Department Authorization.

Senator-elect Cramer co-chairs the Northern Border Caucus, which fosters continued growth in the relationship between the United States and Canada. While in Congress, he has traveled to Kazakhstan and Ukraine. In 2013, he participated in a joint ceremony between the Taiwanese Agricultural Trade Goodwill Mission and U.S. grain exporters, where he said, “Food has long been a tool of peace, and this day and this mission serve as testimony to the world that agricultural trade between partners and friends is better than missiles.”

Senator-elect Cramer has worked with Unseen Ministries, a North Dakota-based nonprofit fighting human trafficking and its root causes around the world, and has advocated for an end to the practice. The USGLC has engaged with Senator-elect Cramer and his staff on several occasions. He has expressed his opposition to proposed cuts to America’s development and diplomacy programs.

Before being elected to Congress, Senator-elect Cramer served as the Economic Development Director for North Dakota, a member of the North Dakota Public Service Commission, and as the Chairman and Executive Director of the North Dakota Republican Party.


Marsha Blackburn (R)

An eight-term Congresswoman, Senator-elect Blackburn has focused her vision for America’s global leadership on the need for a robust military and strong national defense. She has said she believes that “our intelligence community and our Armed Forces must have the tools they need to keep us safe.”

She has been a vocal supporter of elevating the rights of women around the world. Noting that she has worked with female candidates in Iraq, Afghanistan, and across the Middle East to elevate the role of women in society and governance, Senator-elect Blackburn has said “countries that politically enfranchise women are more likely to be moderate, democratic, and American allies.” She has been active in Congress on the issue of human trafficking calling it a “horrific crime” and pledging to continue to work to stop human trafficking at home and abroad saying it is “a crime that is taking place right around us that also has an international component.”

When it comes to America’s international development and diplomacy programs, Senator-elect Blackburn has a mixed voting record. She voted against final passage of the Global Food Security Act, but voted for an earlier version of the bill. She voted for the 2014 Electrify Africa Act and the FY14 State Department Authorization, but in 2011 voted in favor of several amendments to cut food aid and multilateral assistance. Senator-elect Blackburn also voted against the 2012 and 2015 reauthorizations of the Export-Import Bank. She has traveled extensively overseas, visiting more than 30 countries including Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Greece, Turkey, Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam, Jordan, Kuwait, Pakistan, Colombia, Honduras, and Israel. She serves on the Congressional Taiwan and China Caucuses, the International Conservation Caucus, and the Congressional Caucus on Turkey and Turkish Americans. The USGLC has met with Senator-elect Blackburn and her staff on a number of occasions, with a focus on global women’s empowerment and human trafficking issues.

Prior to being elected to Congress, Senator-elect Blackburn chaired the Williamson County Republican Party from 1989 to 1991 and served as a Tennessee State Senator from 1999 to 2002.


Mitt Romney (R)

A two-time presidential candidate, former Governor of Massachusetts, and business leader, Senator-elect Romney has been a vocal champion for America’s leadership role on the world stage. Speaking on the indispensable role and value of America’s global engagement, Romney has said “Without American leadership, without clarity of American purpose and resolve, the world becomes a far more dangerous place, and liberty and prosperity would surely be among the first casualties.”

Senator-elect Romney has long espoused the need for utilizing all the tools of national power and influence, development and diplomacy alongside defense, to advance our interests and values around the world, saying “We must promote our values of freedom and free enterprise through our diplomacy, economic ties, alliances and other soft power tools.” In his book, No Apology, Senator-elect Romney wrote of the importance of soft power tools as a preventative measure against ultimately using military force highlighting, “the full spectrum of hard and soft power to influence events before they erupt into conflict. Resort to force is always the least desirable and costliest option. We must therefore employ all the tools of statecraft to shape the outcome of threatening situations before they demand military action.”

Reinforcing a commitment to America’s fight against global HIV/AIDS as a reflection of American generosity, Senator-elect Romney said at the opening of the 19th Annual International AIDS Day Conference, “America is a compassionate nation. It has been – and must continue to be – a beacon of hope for innovative research and support as we seek to overcome the global challenge of AIDS.” Speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative in 2012, he lauded public-private partnerships to address pressing development and humanitarian challenges, saying “If foreign aid can leverage this massive investment by private enterprise, it may exponentially expand the ability to not only care for those who suffer, but also to change lives.” He called for the strategic use of foreign aid that not only addresses humanitarian crises, such as the PEPFAR initiative, but also “aid that elevates people and brings about lasting change in communities and in nations.” The USGLC met with his senior campaign leadership who were well versed on the importance of global development and diplomacy.

Senator-elect Romney ran for president in 2008 and was the 2012 Republican nominee for President of the United States. Previously, he served as Governor of Massachusetts and managed the 2002 Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the Winter Olympics. Along with his wife Ann, he has worked with the humanitarian organization Charity Vision, participating in humanitarian trips to Peru, Indonesia, and India.

Runoff: Mississippi

Cindy Hyde-Smith (R)

Appointed in April following the retirement of longtime Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran, Senator Hyde-Smith has said her vision for America’s role in the world is rooted in the constitutional obligation to “provide for the common defense,” largely through the lens of a robust military. From her seat on the influential Appropriations Committee and its State-Foreign Operations Subcommittee, which funds the lion’s share of the International Affairs Budget, she has had opportunity to weigh in on the importance of America’s civilian tools.

Formerly Mississippi’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce, Senator Hyde-Smith has been vocal about the importance of eradicating hunger worldwide. She recently participated in an event co-hosted by the University of California, Davis and Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Horticulture to highlight the “critical impacts of U.S. universities and global partners in advancing agricultural innovations to end hunger.” She was also a leader in helping Mississippi State University secure a grant through USAID to “continue efforts to reduce poverty and improve health outcomes for global populations…” In an April State-Foreign Operations Subcommittee hearing, Senator Hyde-Smith lauded the partnership between Mississippi State University and USAID, with Mississippi State President Mark Keenum leading USAID’s Board for International Food and Agriculture Development. She shared she was confident the work of the Board in addressing global food insecurity and agricultural development would “serve our nation.” The USGLC has engaged with Senator Hyde-Smith directly, who reiterated her interest in global food security issues.

Recognizing the value in global economic engagement, Senator Hyde-Smith is also focused on opening up foreign markets, saying one of her top priorities is “helping to open foreign markets for Mississippi agricultural products.”

She recognizes the value of maintaining strong ties with our allies in order to advance American values and diplomacy, and has said that strengthening America’s alliance with Israel is “in U.S. security interests and the absolute right thing to do for our closest friend in a very dangerous part of the world.”

Prior to being appointed to the Senate, Senator Hyde-Smith was a member of the Mississippi Senate, where she was Vice Chair of the National Agriculture Committee of State Legislators. In 2016 she participated in a trade mission to Hong Kong and China with the goal of opening up foreign markets to trade with Mississippi. At the time, she said “It was part of my job to go and do everything I can do to expand the market.”

Mike Espy (D)

A former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary Espy has worked for decades to promote America’s economic and security interests, and humanitarian values, on the world stage. Though focused during the campaign on national security issues pertaining to the military, Secretary Espy has a track record of promoting strategic investments in America’s civilian-led foreign assistance tools, especially pertaining to combating food insecurity around the world. Speaking in 2013 at Kansas State University alongside former Secretaries of Agriculture Block, Glickman, Veneman, Johanns, and Schafer, he said “What [John and I] are trying to do is not just do humanitarian missions to feed African nations, but what we try to do is build a competence and capacity of small scale African farmers. Why are we doing that? We know that in America we are so proficient technologically, that our production will continue to outstretch our demand, so we have to find new markets and emerging markets to sell our farm products to.” He went on to note that as African farmers increase their competence level and incomes, their purchasing ability grows and allows them to look to America for goods and services.

Serving in the U.S. House of Represenative from 1987-1993, he strongly supported America’s development and diplomacy programs. He focused on programs related to the African continent, including those addressing famine and empowering women, including through bolstering USAID’s support for microenterprise as well as through strengthening maternal and child health. In 1987, then-Rep. Espy co-sponsored the Urgent Supplemental Appropriations for Southern Africa Act, to provide additional assistance to that region of Africa. That same year, he co-sponsored the Africa Famine Recovery and Development Act, to help low-income Africans – particularly women – take ownership of their own development and co-sponsored the same bill when it was reintroduced in 1989. In 1988, he co-sponsored the Women in Development Act and the Global Poverty Reduction Act. In 1992, he co-sponsored the International Women and Child Health Act.

While serving in the House, he was a member of the House Budget and Agriculture Committees and he participated in a joint initiative by the African-American community and the Jewish community called the Committee of Blacks and Jews to Aid Ethiopia, a group whose mission it was to end hunger and alleviate the destruction from a famine in the early 1990s. He said, “It’s a start, a small seed of concern for what we hope will be a grass-roots campaign of compassion by Americans of all colors and faiths for the victims of potentially the worst famine of this century.”

The USGLC engaged with Secretary Espy’s senior campaign leadership to discuss his priorities around food security and humanitarian assistance. Born and raised in Mississippi, Espy served as the 25th U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from 1993-1994. Most recently, Secretary Espy served on the Board of Directors of Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), an international agricultural development non-profit.

Too Close to Call: Arizona

Martha McSally (R)

An Air Force veteran who was the first female fighter pilot to fly in combat, Representative McSally has served two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. From her seat on the House Armed Services Committee, she has been a strong voice on defense and national security issues and a vocal proponent for global engagement: “I know first-hand the importance of providing U.S. leadership on the world stage.” One of Representative McSally’s last assignments in the U.S. Air Force was as Chief of Current Operations of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) where she helped stand up AFRICOM and handled counter-terrorism operations in Africa. She has said she has a “personal interest” in seeing that mission succeed.

During her tenure representing Arizona’s 2nd congressional district, Representative McSally strongly supported the International Affairs Budget, voting for several pieces of legislation to strengthen America’s investments in development and diplomacy. Of note, during consideration of an FY18 omnibus spending bill, she voted for an amendment that would have cut the topline, but also opposed a similar amendment. She voted for the 2016 Global Food Security Act, the 2016 Zika Response Appropriations Act, and the 2015 reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank. Following a chemical weapons attack in Syria, she called on the U.S. to develop not only a military strategy, but to also address the humanitarian needs on the ground. She also urged the U.S. to “remove Assad from power, address the humanitarian crisis, and defeat ISIS.” The USGLC has engaged with Representative McSally numerous times on the importance of America’s global leadership role, including leveraging our development and diplomacy tools to keep our nation safe.

A Bronze Star recipient, Representative McSally graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy and served in the Air Force for 26 years before retiring in 2010 as a Colonel. She flew for 225 combat hours as a Squadron Commander and led her A-10 team during Operation Enduring Freedom. During her tenure in the House, McSally traveled to Israel, Mexico, Japan, France, Poland, Ukraine, Estonia, and led a delegation to the Korean Demilitarized Zone.

Kyrsten Sinema (D)

Representative Sinema is strongly supportive of U.S. global leadership. Stating that her first priority is to keep Arizona families safe, she has called for a strategic approach to foreign policy that leverages aggressive diplomacy with sending our men and women in uniform into harm’s way only when other options have failed. She has written, “We need a smart, strong and coordinated strategy to defeat the terrorist threat and keep America safe,” and favors “aggressive diplomacy, crippling sanctions to combat proliferation, and swift, multilateral intervention as a last resort.”

During her three-term tenure representing Arizona’s 9th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives, Representative Sinema demonstrated strong support for the International Affairs Budget. She voted in favor of the 2016 Global Food Security Act, the 2016 Zika Response Appropriations Act, the 2014 Electrify Africa Act, and the FY14 State Department Authorization. Of note, during consideration of an FY18 omnibus spending bill, she voted for an amendment that would have cut the topline, but also opposed a similar amendment. Representative Sinema voted for the 2015 reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, authoring a September 2014 op-ed on why extending the Bank’s authorization mattered for Arizona businesses. As a member of the House Financial Services Committee, she also focused on international development programs and contributions to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Additionally, in the 114th Congress, Representative Sinema co-sponsored legislation laying out a comprehensive plan to defeat ISIS, which included provisions to “provide humanitarian assistance and relief, governance, and rule of law to regions previously impacted by ISIL and its affiliates.”

Sinema has made several official foreign visits during her time in Congress – to Afghanistan in 2013, Rwanda in 2015, and Canada in 2017. She also visited the West Bank and Jerusalem, and toured Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo with CARE in 2016 to visit development projects. The USGLC has engaged with Representative Sinema on several occasions, including hosting her at Arizona State University in 2014 at an event featuring Senator John McCain. Prior to being elected to Congress, Representative Sinema served as a social worker and later practiced law. She also served as an Arizona State Representative and State Senator. She spent time as a relief worker in Kenya in the 1990s.

Too Close to Call: Florida

Rick Scott (R)

A U.S. Navy veteran and two-term Governor of the Sunshine State, Governor Rick Scott has lauded American values on the world stage and called for a strong U.S. role in promoting liberty and democracy around the world. Scott has said “I think it’s very important that America stands for freedom…every chance we have the opportunity to help another group of individuals fight for freedom, we’ve got to do it.”

On international development and diplomacy issues, Governor Scott has been a supporter of global democracy and individual freedom, with a strong interest in Latin America. Recognizing both the humanitarian and economic importance of the region to the U.S., he has said democracy in Latin America “will yield greater stability and more freedom and opportunity for all those in the Western Hemisphere.” If elected to the Senate, Governor Scott has committed to “continue to aggressively find ways that Florida and the U.S. can stand strong against brutal regimes and fight for human rights and democracy across the globe.”

Governor Scott, and his wife Ann, have supported a variety of charities including World Vision, where they worked in partnership to establish a primary health care system in Bunyala, Kenya. In a meeting with the then-Prime Minister of Kenya, Raila Amolo Odinga, in 2011, Governor Scott said “I’ve been all over Kenya, driven clear across the country. My wife and I did a project in the Bengali area for four years in Kenya. It’s a great country. Our goal together is for Florida to build up trade with Kenya.”

He has stated it is in America’s economic interest to be globally engaged. During his tenure as governor, he embarked on 15 trade missions, notably to Canada, Chile, Colombia, Argentina, and Israel. Following a mission to Chile he said “During last month’s trade mission to Chile, we focused on connecting Florida businesses and organizations with opportunities to work with Chilean companies. Because of these new opportunities, Florida’s economy and the families of our state will benefit.”

The USGLC spoke with his senior campaign leadership who were well versed on the importance of global development and diplomacy. A business leader, Governor Scott was a founding partner of the Columbia Healthcare Corporation, which later merged with the Hospital Corporation of America (now HCA). He served in the U.S. Navy for more than two years, with much of that time spent aboard the U.S.S. Glover as a radar technician.