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.