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McMorris Rodgers, Brown and other congressional candidates clash on foreign policy

 (The race for Eastern Washington’s 5th Congressional District will probably draw the most attention around the country as incumb)
(The race for Eastern Washington’s 5th Congressional District will probably draw the most attention around the country as incumb)

Candidates to represent Congress in Eastern Washington have some major disagreements on foreign policy issues.

That might be expected when comparing Republican incumbent Cathy McMorris Rodgers with Democratic challenger Lisa Brown. But McMorris Rodgers also disagrees on some points with two conservative challengers also in the race, Jered Bonneau, another Republican, and Dave Saulibio, who lists his party as “Trump Populist,” although he acknowledges that’s just a label he coined for his own party of one.

Brown and McMorris Rodgers also find themselves in agreement – and in disagreement with Saulibio and Bonneau – on a few points, like President Donald Trump’s announcement to place tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. All four agreed on one point: that North Korea should denuclearize before the United States lifts sanctions.

As part of ongoing coverage of the hotly contested congressional race, The Spokesman-Review asked the four candidates questions on recent foreign policy issues and prepared their answers so voters can easily compare and contrast them. A fifth candidate, Kari Ilonummi of Arlington, Washington, did not return phone calls or an email asking him to participate.

Even when they agreed on some points, Democratic challenger Brown was the most likely to be critical of the way Trump and his administration handles foreign policy, saying their tendency to make conflicting statements, not consult allies and reverse course can cause instability on negotiations with North Korea.

The proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum also were announced unilaterally “and without a lot of forethought,” she said. Republican leaders in Congress should be standing up to the president on things like requiring approval for military action in Syria, she added.

McMorris Rodgers was sometimes critical of the president, including his proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum.

“I do not support the across-the-board approach and have made that clear to the administration,” she said, but added those tariffs are only proposals and haven’t been officially adopted.

She supports Trump on other foreign policy decisions, such as moving the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, adding troops in Afghanistan, pulling out of the agreement to halt Iran’s nuclear program and maintaining the embargo on Cuba.

The other challengers are even more emphatic in their support for Trump, something which would be expected at least for Saulibio; after all, the president’s name is in his party label. Trump moved the embassy to Jerusalem when previous presidents did nothing but talk, he said, and Congress should let the president handle Afghanistan so they can concentrate on other issues, like the debt.

Bonneau backed renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement and the tariffs on steel and aluminum as helping Trump’s “America First” stance.

He was the only candidate to oppose more sanctions on Russia, saying the United States should instead “be looking for ways to restore relations” with that country.

Race for Congress: Where They Stand on Foreign Policy

Editor’s note: A fifth candiate for the seat, Kari Ilonummi of Arlington, Washington, did not respond to calls and an email asking him to participate.

Jim Camdenjimc@spokesman.com


Lisa Brown (Democrat)

Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Republican)

Jered Bonneau (Republican)

Dave Saulibio (Trump populist)

Q: Was the administration right to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem?

Lisa Brown - It depends

It depends

Agrees with goal of moving the embassy, disagrees with timing and way administration executed decision.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers - Absolutely

Absolutely

Israel is our greatest Middle East friend and ally, and Jerusalem is its eternal capital.

Jered Bonneau - Absolutely

Absolutely

Jerusalem is the holy city and capital of Israel.

Dave Saulibio - Yes

Yes

It’s their capital city. Trump followed through where other presidents were all talk.

Q: What action, if any, should the U.S. take in response to Israel’s use of deadly force against Palestinian protests as a result of that move?

Lisa Brown - It depends

It depends

U.S. has a responsibility to speak against human rights violations when evident and work with Israel and Palestinians for a two-state solution.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers - None

None

Claims that these were peaceful were untrue. What we saw was caused by Hamas and its allies.

Jered Bonneau - None

None

Those were not protesters. They attacked Israel, which acted in self-defense.

Dave Saulibio - None

None

It’s their country, it’s their border. They have the right.

Q: Should President Donald Trump get authorization from Congress before taking any more military action against Syria?

Lisa Brown - Yes

Yes

It’s the constitutional role of Congress to approve military action like that. Republican leaders should stand up to the president on this.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers - It depends

It depends

Actions so far have been appropriate. The president should have open dialogue with Congress for any in the future.

Jered Bonneau - It depends

It depends

Not if our troops are attacked. Any other action, per the Constitution, needs congressional approval.

Dave Saulibio - No

No

Let him handle it. Congress has more issues to worry about, like the debt, Social Security and immigration.

Q: Should the U.S require denuclearization of North Korea before easing sanctions?

Lisa Brown - Yes

Yes

When the administration makes conflicting statements, doesn’t work with allies and reverses course, instability is the result.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers - Yes

Yes

North Korea has a history of using talks to buy time. We must be firm.

Jered Bonneau - Absolutely

Absolutely

Dave Saulibio - Yes

Yes

Keep up the pressure. Don’t trust “Rocket Man.”

Q: Do you support President Trump’s decision to add more troops and military resources to Afghanistan?

Lisa Brown - No

No

Quotes defense secretary that victory shouldn’t be a military one but a diplomatic one.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers - Yes

Yes

His stance in Afghanistan has the support of the Afghan government.

Jered Bonneau - Yes

Yes

Trump is being advised by generals who know how to win conflicts.

Dave Saulibio - Yes

Yes

We need to finish the job and give field commanders the resources.

Q: Should the North American Free Trade Agreement be abandoned, renegotiated or kept essentially as it is?

Lisa Brown - Renegotiated

Renegotiated

But the administration may have missed the time line for Congress to renew any new agreement.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers - Renegotiated

Renegotiated

To keep up with the 21st century on issues like intellectual property rights.

Jered Bonneau - Renegotiated

Renegotiated

To support America First; if that can’t happen, then dissolve it.

Dave Saulibio - Possibly abolished

Possibly abolished

If we don’t get a better deal, walk away at some point.

Q: Do you support the administration’s proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum?

Lisa Brown - No

No

Tariffs can be a tool to level the field in trade agreements but these were done unilaterally and without much foresight.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers - No

No

Doesn’t support across-the-board approach and has made that clear to administration. Supports a targeted approach.

Jered Bonneau - Yes

Yes

This has already been effective and is helping America First policies.

Dave Saulibio - Yes

Yes

It’s about time. The world plays football on trade, we play baseball.

Q: Should the U.S. increase sanctions on Russia?

Lisa Brown - Yes

Yes

Implement sanctions already passed by Congress. Republican leadership should stand up to administration on this issue.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers - Yes

Yes

Congress approved sanctions last year for interference in the election.

Jered Bonneau - No

No

We should be looking for ways to restore relations with Russia.

Dave Saulibio - Yes

Yes

Send them a message, focus on energy, get oil down to the $30 per barrel range.

Q: Was the U.S. correct to pull out of the Iranian nuclear agreement?

Lisa Brown - No

No

Implementation and enforcement issues need to be fixed but unilaterally pulling out without a clear strategy was wrong.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers - Yes

Yes

It was flawed and didn’t do enough to stop Iran. We need a new direction.

Jered Bonneau - Absolutely

Absolutely

This was a massive mistake among many by President Barack Obama’s administration.

Dave Saulibio - Yes

Yes

Didn’t care for the sunset clause and it couldn’t be verified.

Q: Should the federal government separate parents and children who are detained for entering the U.S. without proper documentation?

Lisa Brown - No

No

Except for rare cases when a parent is accused of a crime and jailed while going through the legal process.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers - No

No

Doesn’t believe in tearing families apart. We should increase border security so families aren’t put in this situation.

Jered Bonneau - No

No

If they cross illegally, families should be detained together and sent back together.

Dave Saulibio - Yes

Yes

There’s a potential toll but the U.S. should follow procedures, even if it means separating families.

Q: Should the U.S. grant asylum status to people from Central America arriving in caravans?

Lisa Brown - If they qualify

If they qualify

Regardless of how they arrive, should get due process. U.S. should work with other countries to ensure safe places for refugees and constantly re-evaluate policies.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers - No

No

There’s a pre-established program for asylum. We should be open and welcoming, but large activism on the border is not the way to go.

Jered Bonneau - No

No

This is an illegal and planned invasion. No asylum for criminals.

Dave Saulibio - No

No

We need to secure the border, and this adds to the immigration problem.

Q: Should the U.S. recognize Taiwan as an independent nation and increase arms sales to the Taiwanese?

Lisa Brown - No

No

A 1979 law prevents recognizing Taiwan, Congress should not reverse that without a diplomatic process.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers - No

No

Continues to support the one China policy. Include Taiwan in international panels and make sure it is defended.

Jered Bonneau - Not now

Not now

Because of the state of relations with China, trying to calm the storm Obama created.

Dave Saulibio - Yes

Yes

They are a good ally and trading partner, doesn’t care how China feels.

Q: Should the U.S. lift the embargo and normalize relations with Cuba?

Lisa Brown - Yes

Yes

Visited Cuba in 2016 on a trade mission and saw large potential for ag trade and science exchange.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers - No

No

Until Cuba chooses to grant basic human rights to citizens sees no reason to grant them access to the U.S.

Jered Bonneau - Not now

Not now

Should see more conditions regarding human rights and democracy met first.

Dave Saulibio - No

No

Doesn’t see what we’re going to get out of that.


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