Background on the candidate’s statements, positions, and record on diplomacy, global development, and America’s role the world
Vice President Mike Pence has touted President Ronald Reagan’s vision of global leadership calling for “peace through strength.” As Vice President, he has been a strong supporter of President Trump’s foreign policy agenda, recently describing it as a belief in “the values of democracy — of individual liberty, of freedom of religion and conscience, the rule of law — serve American and global interests because they are, and will ever be, the best form of government to unleash human aspirations and guide the relations between all the world’s nations and peoples.” During his tenure as Vice President, however, the Trump Administration has proposed several budget requests calling for cutting international affairs programs by as much as 32%.
Vice President Pence has often spoken about his faith and how religious values undergird his world view. He has been a vocal advocate for international religious freedom, calling it a foreign policy “priority” and praising State Department and USAID efforts to assist persecuted religious minorities around the world. He previously served as Governor of Indiana and a Member of Congress from 2001 to 2013 where he served on the Foreign Affairs Committee. On the committee, he was a supporter of the passage of PEPFAR, a proponent of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship, and an advocate for increased defense spending. He also served as Chairman of the House Republican Conference and influential Republican Study Committee, which during his leadership called for cutting foreign assistance resources.
Prior to his selection as Vice President, Pence said of his foreign policy convictions that it is “imperative that conservatives again embrace America’s role as leader of the free world and the arsenal of democracy.”
Speaking at the United Nations in 2019, Pence highlighted international religious freedom, saying: “As we gather here at the United Nations, more than 80 percent of the world’s population live in nations where religious freedom is threatened or banned…we’ve provided more than $370 million to aid ethnic minorities in faith communities persecuted by ISIS in Iraq and throughout the region.”
The Trump Administration inaugurated the first annual Religious Freedom Ministerial hosted by the State Department in 2018. During that event, Vice President Pence announced a joint effort by the State Department and USAID to support those persecuted and most vulnerable communities, saying: “America is launching a new initiative that will not only deliver additional support to the most vulnerable communities, but we trust that it will also embolden civil society to help stop violence in the future…. Under this new program, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development will closely partner with local faith and community leaders to rapidly deliver aid to persecuted communities.”
As Vice President, Pence spoke at a 2018 event commemorating World AIDS Day and the 15th anniversary of PEPFAR, saying “PEPFAR has not only been the largest investment; it has been inarguably one of the most successful investment in healthcare and humanitarian aid in American history. Thanks to the generosity of the American people and the efforts of the organizations that are so well represented here today, it’s humbling to think, in just 15 years, this American effort has helped save more than 17 million lives and prevented millions more from contracting HIV/AIDS to begin with.”
As a senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Pence played a leadership role in supporting programs to fund the U.S. response to HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis – and voted for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in 2003 and 2008. He lauded the bill, saying, “The Bible tells us, ‘to whom much is given, much is expected,’ and I believe the United States has a moral obligation to lead the world in confronting the pandemic of HIV/AIDS.” He added that the threat posed by HIV/AIDS could “undermine the stability of nations throughout the third world, leaving behind collapsing economies and tragedy and desperation – a breeding ground for extremist violence.”
While serving as Vice President, the Administration continually advanced budget proposals calling for double-digit cuts to America’s international affairs programs by as much as 32%.
During his tenure in the U.S. House, he voted for overall funding for international affairs but supported some amendments to cut individual programs, including for the UN, the U.S. Institute of Peace, and emergency food aid.
While serving as Chairman of the Republican Study Committee (RSC) from 2005 to 2006, the RSC budget resolution proposed significant cuts to the International Affairs Budget. The accompanying report language called for the elimination of USAID, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), and other development agencies. Conversely, he voted for the creation of the MCC in 2003 and against an amendment to eliminate funding for the agency in 2004.
As Governor, Pence actively promoted Indiana’s engagement in the global economy. Through the Indiana Economic Development Foundation, he traveled on trade missions with Indiana businesses to Canada, China, Germany, Israel, Japan, and the United Kingdom.