Congressman Connolly is a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and previously spent 10 years as a staff member on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He believes that while a strong military is a vital tool in our security toolbox, we cannot ignore the increasingly important role diplomacy and development play in meeting our most pressing security challenges and in demonstrating American leadership in global affairs.
Our diplomacy and development efforts are complementary to U.S. military operations. As has been the lesson in Iraq, Afghanistan, and countless other interventions, a permanent U.S. military footprint is rarely a tenable proposal for the American public. Instead, investments in democracy and governance, rule of law, and economic development are the key to turning stagnant societies mired in corruption and violence into more stable, resilient, and prosperous countries. When we fail to make those investments, we are often left conducting triage when the bills come due for our neglected international funding priorities.
In November 2020, he was elected President of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA), an interparliamentary organization for the members of parliament from across the Alliance to discuss and inform decisions on Alliance security. During his two-year term, President Connolly sought to help reestablish U.S. leadership within NATO, strengthen the founding democratic values of the Alliance, and enhance NATO PA’s contributions to Alliance strategic planning. He spearheaded an initiative to establish a Center for Democratic Resilience within the NATO Headquarters, to serve as a resource of best practices, networking and cross-fertilization for NATO members, partners and aspirant countries.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has underscored not only the need for a robust federal response to such a crisis, but also the importance of investing in global health security around the world. As diseases do not stop at borders, saving lives from the next global pandemic starts with investing in preparedness before it strikes. That is why Congressman Connolly introduced the Global Health Security Act, which recognizes the critical role of U.S. leadership in international health security, and ensures that there is a permanent designated official responsible for coordinating the federal response to a global health security emergency. The House of Representatives has passed this legislation with overwhelming bipartisan support.
U.S. foreign assistance programs work to end extreme poverty and build democratic societies that respect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms. These efforts are fundamental safeguards against the development of instability and security threats overseas. Congressman Connolly introduced and passed the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act, which directs the President to establish monitoring and evaluation guidelines for U.S. development and economic assistance programs. He has also introduced the Global Partnerships Act, which would provide a comprehensive reauthorization of U.S. foreign aid programs for the first time since 1985. He has championed human rights and spoken out on behalf of activists, dissidents, and the voiceless from Asia to the Middle East. Congressman Connolly introduced the Protection of Saudi Dissidents Act, which passed the House of Representatives. This legislation would hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the murder of VA-11 constituent Jamal Khashoggi and other attacks on critics of the Kingdom.
Serious, credible, and ambitious diplomacy can resolve the world’s most intractable challenges, and development investments have proven capable of unleashing economic growth and promoting stability. Together, diplomacy and development keep us safe, and Congressman Connolly believes we should fund them in a manner commensurate with the premium we place on our national security.
Congressman Connolly holds several foreign policy-related leadership positions in the House of Representatives. He serves as a co-chair of the Korea Caucus, Georgia Caucus, Morocco Caucus, Taiwan Caucus, and the Congressional Caucus on U.S.-Turkey Relations and Turkish Americans. He also serves as a member of the House Democracy Partnership (HDP), which supports the development of democratic legislative bodies in partner countries.