1/ I was 27 on September 11, 2001. A second term state legislator. For people like me, in their formative stage of public service in 2001, 9/11 was definitional. It charted our course.
2/ I was at a meeting at Southington High School, just around the corner from my one bedroom apartment. I watched the initial reports of a plane crash on the small televisions in the school’s library. It looked like an accident at first, and I headed back home.
3/ As a poor state legislator who spent my entire salary on law school tuition, I didn’t own a proper television or have cable back then. So I pulled out a tiny black and white set and found the antenna only picked up one channel - WTNH.
Spare me the make believe indignation from Republicans about the Afghanistan evacuation.
1/ Here's the story of the relentless Republican effort (led by President Trump) to undermine and destroy the programs that help bring Afghan refugees to the U.S.
2/ Over the last decade, Republicans have pushed to intentionally create a massive backlog in the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program - the one we use to bring Afghan partners to America, by putting onerous conditions on the applications.
3/ In 2016, Obama asked to increase the cap for the SIV program. Senate Republicans objected.
Then, the Trump Admin started slowing down SIV processing. When Biden took over, there were 10,000 unfilled visas, despite 17,000 applications in the pipeline.
2/ Twenty years of American presence in Afghanistan smashed Al Qaeda in Afghanistan to pieces. It's likely only 100-200 members remain, and they do not possess the ability to plan and execute an attack against the United States.
3/ And remember, for years the Taliban has been in control of over half of Afghanistan. So if the Taliban wanted to give Al Qaeda a safe haven, Al Qaeda would have had plenty of room to operate. The Taliban made a strategic decision to keep Al Qaeda at bay.
I want to share with you a story from a 2011 trip to Afghanistan that perfectly encapsulates why our mission there was flawed by design and why, despite the heroism of our soldiers, it's time to leave.
1/ Read the whole thing. It's worth it.
2/ I was there with a bipartisan House delegation. We wanted to get outside of Kabul to see Obama's "surge" in action.
The military picked Parmakan, a small town in Herat Province. If I recall, it had been controlled by the Taliban, but U.S. forces had retaken it.
3/ We were greeted by the Army unit stationed there. Their leader was an impressive guy from Goshen, CT. These guys were bad ass, and rightly proud of having run the Taliban out of town.
They introduced us to the village elders, and we set off for a tour of the town.
1/ A THREAD on why the quickening advance of the Taliban isn't a reason to put U.S. troops back into Afghanistan, but rock solid confirmation President Biden's decision to leave was right. nytimes.com/2021/08/08/wor…
2/ It's hard to watch Afghan cities fall to the Taliban, after all the American lives lost there. But if the Afghan military is folding this meekly, after 20 years of training and trillions of dollars of investment, another 20 years of U.S. occupation wasn't going to fix that.
3/ And the Taliban has been gaining territory steadily over the last decade, even when we had 10,000+ troops.
It turns out building an American-style military in a country w/o a sense of nationalism is impossible. We had a plan that only worked on paper. nytimes.com/2019/07/19/mag…
1/ Nordstream 2 is bad for Europe, Ukraine and the U.S. But thinking America alone can stop a pipeline that is 98% complete is based in fantasy not reality. The deal Biden reached with Germany isn’t perfect, but it’s a good outcome under the circumstances. washingtonpost.com/national-secur…
2/ Obama, Trump, nor Biden could convince Germany to abandon the project. It was going to be built. Unfortunate but true.
I guess we could’ve burned our relationship w/ Germany + others to the ground over Nordstream 2, but that would have come at an enormous, indefensible cost.
3/ So without this deal, the pipeline would have been built and Ukraine would have gotten NOTHING. That would be the worst outcome.
1/ A THREAD on why Congress needs to take back its constitutional national security powers and how the sweeping bipartisan bill I introduced yesterday with @SenSanders and @SenMikeLee will get this done.
2/ Our Founding Fathers envisioned a system where Congress and the executive branch shared power over our national security.
They wanted to ensure that the American people would have a say when it came time to make consequential decisions like sending our men and women to war.
3/ But over the years, Republican and Democratic presidents have gotten far too comfortable going to war without congressional authorization, declaring vague “national emergencies," and exporting massive amounts of weapons all over the world.
The war in Yemen is the world's worst humanitarian disaster. 2M children at risk of starving to death.
I spent the last 5 days in the Middle East pushing for a ceasefire.
Yemen gets little attention in the U.S., but you should know how this war can end.
1/ A short thread:
2/ President Biden has made ending the Yemen war a priority, and this matters.
He stopped U.S. offensive support for the Saudi side of the war, and he named veteran diplomat Tim Lenderking Special Envoy. There is new momentum toward a ceasefire bc of Biden's new approach.
3/ There are three things that must happen to stave off a coming famine. I went to the region to join Lenderking, UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths, and other Biden officials to blanket the region in pursuit of these goals.
Friday in Hartford a young woman named Solmary Cruz nervously handed me a slip of paper with a neatly written list of changes she wants.
"You promise you're going to read it?" she asked in a weak but purposeful voice.
2/ Written in red pen, she meticulously outlines the steps she thinks will make her Hartford neighborhood safer.
At the top of the paper are her topics:
"*increase patrols and walking
*programs for youth
*stolen car issue
3/ One section is about the need to integrate kids from different neighborhoods. She explains how many homicides are about grudges between blocks or neighborhoods that kids inherit. Meeting the kids they are taught to hate might break the cycle of violence, Solmary writes.
1/ Six years ago, I gave the first speech in the Senate on the Yemen civil war.
This afternoon I'm chairing my first Foreign Relations hearing on U.S. policy on Yemen. A quick thread on why this matters and what I'll be focused on when questioning the witnesses ⤵️
2/ There are four major objectives when it comes to Yemen:
- Reach a nationwide ceasefire
- Provide vital humanitarian aid
- Get Yemen's economy back up and running
- Lay out a framework for inclusive political negotiations to finally end this conflict
3/ First, after the U.S. finally pulled our support for the Saudi led military effort, the Saudis made a ceasefire proposal. The Biden admin is committed to the diplomatic work needed to help broker an end to this conflict. This is critical.
The biggest national security threats we face today - climate change, pandemic disease, China competition - can't be solved with military tools.
But today we spend 13x - THIRTEEN TIMES! - more on the military than on diplomacy/smart power.
1/ A quick THREAD🧵on how we fix this:
2/ I'm teaming up with @ChrisVanHollen, @davidcicilline & @RepBera to propose a $12 billion increase in funding for State and USAID directed towards three specific challenges - competing with China, preparing for the next pandemic, and fighting climate change.
3/ China is running circles around the US when it comes to deploying diplomats and development funding. And their state-sponsored propaganda arm is working nonstop to discredit free and open democracies. We can't continue to let them go unchallenged.
2/ Non-compete agreements prohibit you from leaving your company and working for a competitor. First, they stifle innovation, bc many would-be entrepreneurs are stopped from going out and working on any product that might end up competing with their prior employer.
3/ Second, non-competes depress wages, bc if you can't leave and work for any other company in your industry, then you have no leverage to ask for a higher salary. Non-competes impose a form of indentured service.
The Iran nuclear deal's original terms made the world a safer place. That's why restarting the agreement through "compliance for compliance", rather than trying to hold out for a new/different deal (as Trump, Iran hawks wanted) is the best path.
1/ A short THREAD explaining why:
2/ The Iran deal put the U.S./Europe/Russia/China all on the same side of Iran policy. Leaving the deal shattered that coalition.
We can't make progress on Iran's missile program or terrorist funding without this team regrouping, and a quick reentry to the JCPOA does this.
3/ Plus, so long as we continue Trump era sanctions, Iran will seek to destabilize the region, in Iran, Yemen, Syria, etc.
Neocons say we can't negotiate with Iran while they provoke, but that's their typical BS. We need de-escalation, and restarting the JCPOA does that.
1/ A quick thread of why traditional "summer school" may be a big mistake for exhausted, traumatized kids, and why we need to be thinking bigger about more emotionally and psychologically relevant programming for kids this summer.
2/ We underestimate how hard the last 12 months have been on kids. As a parent of public school 3rd and 6th graders, I know. The disconnect from peers, challenges of distance learning, stop and start of in-school instruction, and general stress of COVID has drained kids.
3/ YES there's been learning loss. YES it's been worst for low income kids without regular digital access and kids with learning needs. YES we need to build new services around these kids to help them catch up.
But kids are exhausted, and MORE school this summer may not work.
Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign proved a catastrophic failure, but the Iran hawks are unrepentant. Now they want to dictate Biden's personnel choices, labeling those who support diplomacy as dangerous.
The hawks have been wrong, over and over. Why listen to them now?
The hawks' theory was if we pulled out of the nuclear deal and went back to sanctions and tough talk, Iran would come to the table on not just nukes, but missiles, human rights, terrorism, etc.
Trump tested the theory. Gave it 4 solid years. It didn't work. At all.
No other nation joined our new sanctions. Instead, all our JCPOA partners developed work-arounds to keep the Iranian economy alive.
And Iran restarted the shuttered parts of their nuclear program and began shooting at U.S. soldiers in Iraq again.
The internal security threat the U.S. faces right now is serious. We need a Secretary of Defense on the job immediately. I will vote to confirm Lloyd Austin and grant him a waiver, and I urge other Senators to do the same.
In 2017 I voted against granting a waiver for Jim Mattis. My constituents should rightfully ask, what’s different now?
First, the immediacy of the threat to our country requires DoD to have leadership in place without delay. But that’s not the only thing that’s changed.
A general at DoD was especially worrying under Trump. Trump had zero foreign policy experience, a penchant to glorify violence, a total neophyte Secretary of State, and an unstable, war mongering former general as NSA.
A little noticed decision by Mike Pompeo Sunday may result in tens of thousands dying of starvation and also a massive oil spill 4 times bigger than the Valdez.
1/ A THREAD of the mind blowing insanity of Pompeo's decision to name Yemen's Houthis as a terrorist group.
2/ A civil war has been raging in Yemen since 2014. Saudi Arabia and the U.S. are on one side. The rebel Houthi tribe and Iran on the other. It has caused a humanitarian crisis - the worst in the world. 100,000 children have died of starvation or disease. 16m are malnourished.
3/ The Houthis are bad guys. They target civilians. They steal food aid. But they aren't what we would traditionally consider a "terrorist group". They are using barbaric tactics in the conduct of war. But so are the Saudis. They intentionally target civilians too.
So a holiday tip for Hartford area families. There’s a new light display on the South Green in Hartford (intersection of Main, Wethersfield and Maple Aves).
It’s pretty magical. Read Anne’s post below. She asks how it happened, so here’s the quick story.
In 2020, smiles have been harder to find. I spend my days working to get more testing and UI and food assistance to CT. Yes, economic security brings smiles.
But for kids especially, so do the whimsical silly things. And there aren’t many of those to be found this year.
There’s this big, beautiful, historic green a block from our new house in Hartford and next to Hartford Hospital. Tons of passing traffic, big gorgeous trees. And I knew what it needed - Christmas lights. Millions of them.