National Security and Foreign Policy

America is strongest when it leads. Our engagement abroad and partnership with our allies grows prosperity at home, enhances our ability to address the most pressing challenges of our time, and helps avoid crises that may otherwise require U.S. service members to go to war. Diplomacy, strategic foreign aid, targeted sanctions, and the use of force only as a last resort must be core elements of U.S. foreign policy. Our goal must be to protect our vital national interests and to promote peace, democracy, freedom, and human rights around the world. Senator Van Hollen has advanced each of these principles through his legislative efforts and his leadership in the Senate as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, where he also serves as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy. 

His work has shaped how the U.S confronts bad actors around the world. Senator Van Hollen’s bipartisan Banking Restrictions Involving North Korea (BRINK) Act, which was signed into law in 2019, requires the Administration to impose sanctions on foreign banks and companies found to facilitate illicit financial transactions for North Korea. He has also led efforts to hold China accountable for its attacks against liberty in Hong Kong. He has led bipartisan efforts to confront the Turkish government’s crackdown on democracy and counter actions they have taken that undermine our national security. In addition, he has drawn a clear line in the sand for foreign actors – including Russia – who seek to disrupt our country’s elections. 

Holding bad actors to account around the world must go hand-in-hand with preserving America’s competitiveness at home in an increasingly globalized economy, and Senator Van Hollen has advanced legislative efforts to do just that. He helped pass the United States Innovation and Competition Act through the Senate, which will boost innovation and grow jobs in Maryland and across the country while curtailing the theft of trade secrets and meeting the rising global challenge of China. That legislation included essential provisions from his National SEAL Act, which will help the United States stay at the forefront of innovation and technology. In addition, he has authored legislation to better protect American intellectual property, and he successfully fought to enact bipartisan legislation he co-authored to protect American investors from fraudulent foreign corporations seeking to take advantage of them – especially those backed by the government of China. 

The son of a Foreign Service officer, Senator Van Hollen is equally committed to ensuring that those who choose to serve in our diplomatic corps receive top-notch support. He is a co-founder and co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Foreign Service Caucus and wrote and passed the bipartisan Foreign Service Families Act to help expand employment opportunities for Foreign Service spouses and guarantee in-state tuition for members of the Foreign Service and their families. We provide these benefits to military families, and Senator Van Hollen fought to extend this support to Foreign Service families serving our country so we can attract and retain the best and the brightest to represent our country abroad.

Senator Van Hollen has also worked to develop a smarter defense budget that meets our nation’s security needs while simultaneously providing direct support to our troops. He has worked with colleagues to assemble the annual National Defense Authorization Act and ensured the inclusion of provisions to increase pay for military and Department of Defense civilian employees, deliver vital resources to military bases in Maryland, and protect military families. At the same time, he has pushed for stronger accounting to cut waste in the Defense Department budget and opposed certain expensive and destabilizing nuclear weapons systems – like the nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missile – that harm national security by increasing the risk of unintended war.  

As a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee for State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, Senator Van Hollen has fought for additional resources for the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and initiatives focused on international assistance. Providing resources to USAID and peer agencies that promote international development is an essential component of our national security strategy. Some of the biggest threats we face are interconnected and global – including pandemics. Viruses know no borders, and our ability to defeat COVID-19 depends upon our willingness to partner with other nations to stop the spread and mount a successful recovery. USAID serves at the forefront of our efforts to beat this virus – and in doing so, helps maintain America’s longstanding tradition of being a leader in global health – as has been the case in fighting malaria, tuberculosis, and notably, HIV/AIDS through PEPFAR. As we work to strengthen the capacity of public health systems around the world, Senator Van Hollen also believes we should support efforts to expand educational opportunities, especially for those – like girls – who have been systematically denied access to schools in many parts of the world. 

In the 21st century, we must be prepared to meet the evolving challenges of an increasingly globalized world while confronting the creeping trend of authoritarianism. Senator Van Hollen believes this will require the skillful deployment of all of our foreign policy tools: diplomacy, development, and defense capabilities.