A Letter from Our Executive Director
FP4A’s founding idea is that American foreign policy starts at home. Its direction and success depend on our commitment as citizens to be fully informed, engage in debate, and hold lawmakers accountable. To that end, we are proud to share with you FP4A’s 116th Congress Legislative Scorecard, which details the legislative actions of Members of Congress from January 2019 to January 2021 on the most pressing foreign policy issues of our time.
These two years will be remembered as an extraordinarily challenging period in American history. Extreme polarization, fueled by the rhetoric of President Trump, divided our country. A global pandemic swept through our communities. Against that backdrop we witnessed paralysis on key aspects of U.S. foreign policy. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress struggled to take meaningful action. Divided and dysfunctional, the Senate nearly ground to a halt, passing most legislation only when it could be approved by unanimous consent.
But we also witnessed the very active efforts of Congress to check President Trump and sustain strong, principled U.S. foreign policy. From rejecting his budget cuts for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development to voting to block U.S. weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, bipartisan coalitions in both the House and Senate worked to uphold our tradition of principled U.S. leadership. The House of Representatives, in particular, advanced a wealth of legislation to defend our interests and values.
As we enter 2021, we issue this scorecard in a spirit of hope. Despite the attacks on America’s internationalist values and democratic institutions, levels of civic engagement have never been higher. Public support for diplomacy-first foreign policy is strong. President Biden enters office with a mandate to strengthen U.S. cooperation with our allies and partners and to restore, in his words, “the power of our example.”
But each of us can do more. In the pages that follow, and on our website at scorecard.FP4America.org, you will find valuable information about how each Member of Congress voted over the past two years. We hope that information inspires you to contact your congressional representatives and talk with them about your values and priorities. To make it easier, our website also includes contact information for each Member of Congress and suggestions for what you can say.
I want to emphasize that we could not have produced this scorecard without the insights and expertise of our extraordinary policy committee, composed of dozens of issue experts and members of FP4A’s advisory board. For each of the 20 issues on our policy agenda, we worked together to identify the single piece of legislation that best represented lawmakers’ views. Where there were votes, we used those. In other cases, where there was not a clear up or down vote but prominent legislation existed and was considered, we scored bill sponsorship as an indicator of where each Senator or Representative stood. For some issues, neither option existed and we scored nothing.
Ultimately, this scorecard is intended as a resource for you. As citizens in a representative democracy, each one of us can play a role in shaping the future of American foreign policy by lifting up our voices and demanding action. At FP4A, we are convinced that by working together, we can make a world of difference, and we look forward to partnering with you on that work in the years ahead.
All the best,