Foreign Affairs

U.S. Helsinki Commission

Congressman Cohen is a Member of the Commission on Security & Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, which seeks to improve security by promoting human rights, democracy and cooperation on economic, environmental and military issues in 57 countries.  As a Commissioner, he has attended numerous hearings, briefings and meetings on these issues in Washington, DC, participated in every Annual Session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and has traveled to Helsinki member states on official travel to meet with foreign elected officials.

Supporting NATO and Countering Russian Aggression

Congressman Cohen introduced a resolution to express support for North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (H.Res.256).  The resolution recognizes that NATO remains the most important and critical security link between the United States and Europe. It also recognizes the United States’ strong commitment to the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and democratic development of the countries that have emerged from the former Soviet Union, including Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova. H.Res.256 passed the House of Representatives on July 11, 2018.

Congressman Cohen is a cosponsor of the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act which establishes new sanctions, and enhances existing sanctions, against entities related to Russia, Iran and North Korea. It codifies and strengthens current sanctions contained in executive orders on Russia imposed by President Obama in response to Russian aggression in Ukraine and Moscow's interference in the U.S. presidential election and gives Congress an opportunity to reject presidential efforts to waive or terminate those and certain other sanctions.  The bill passed the House of Representatives on July 25, 2017 by 419-3 and the U.S. Senate on July 27, 2017 by 98-2 and became law on August 2, 2017.

Congressman Cohen is the sponsor of Punishing Continued Occupation of Ukraine Act which would punish Russia’s continued occupation of Crimea by targeting Russian financial institutions which are the soft underbelly of President Putin’s regime.  He is also a cosponsor of Secure America from Russian Interference Act which increases sanction on Russia and includes Punishing Continued Occupation of Ukraine Act.

Cuban Relations

Congressman Cohen has long supported normalizing U.S. relations with Cuba.  He supported President Obama’s steps to normalize relations with Cuba and has cosponsored the Promoting American Agricultural and Medical Exports to Cuba Act and the Free Trade With Cuba Act .  These bills aim to lift restrictions on exports of agriculture and medical goods to Cuba, ease travel restrictions to and from Cuba for U.S. citizens or legal residents, and repeal the embargo on trade with Cuba, respectively.  He has also written to the Cuban government in support of medical diplomacy with Memphis health institutions.

Syrian Refugees and Immigration Restriction

Congressman Cohen has remained adamantly opposed to President Trump’s anti-refugee and immigration rhetoric. In a time when millions are suffering, it is our duty as Americans to find ways to help, not to isolate ourselves. For this reason, Congressman Cohen has taken action to counteract President Trump’s refugee ban including cosponsoring the Statue of Liberty Values (SOLVE) 2.0 Act to prohibit the use of federal funds from being used to implement President Trump’s ban. Congressman Cohen also signed on to a letter urging federal departments to comply with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision to overturn the travel ban that would have prevented people from several countries, including Syria, to travel to the U.S.


Israel has been our closest friend and ally in the Middle East since 1948 when the U.S. became the first country to recognize the establishment of the Jewish state.  Our nearly seven decades long relationship has contributed to the national security of both of our countries and remains as important today as it was during the tumultuous first 20 years of Israel’s existence.  This is why the safety, security and right of Israel to exist as a democratic Jewish state alongside a Palestinian state has been Congressman Cohen’s focus when considering any legislation or actions pertaining to Israel or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  

Iran Nuclear Deal

Congressman Cohen voted for the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, which passed the House and Senate and was signed into law by President Obama on May 22, 2015.  This bill gave Congress 60 days to review the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) before conducting a vote of disapproval.  The JCPOA is an historic agreement between the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, China and Iran to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.  After carefully reviewing the JCPOA and listening to constituents who oppose and support the agreement as well as speaking personally with President Obama and Secretary Kerry about the agreement, meeting with U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Dan Baer, attending classified briefings and meetings with officials at the Vienna headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency while on official travel, and speaking with Asian officials and diplomats, he voted to approve the JCPOA as a diplomatic way to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and avoid possible military action. Congressman Cohen is concerned that President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the deal will cause more instability in the region and will cause Iran to move towards a nuclear bomb.

More on Foreign Affairs

November 7, 2020 Press Release

MEMPHIS – Congressman Cohen (TN-09) is pleased to see that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have won the required Electoral College votes to become President and Vice President, and made the following statement:

October 6, 2020 Press Release

MEMPHIS – Congressmen Steve Cohen (TN-09) and Joe Wilson (SC-02) have introduced the Holding Russia Accountable for Malign Activities Act in response to the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and other crimes against political opponents of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) announced earlier today that it has concluded that Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned with the Novichok nerve agent which, according to experts, can only be used by the Russian Federation.

September 15, 2020 Press Release

MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen, a senior member of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE, also known as the Helsinki Commission) led a letter to President Trump today asking that he keep Congress informed of the Administration’s ongoing investigation of what Germany has determined was the intentional poisoning of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny.

The letter was signed by Members James McGovern, Debbie Dingell, Ruben Gallego, Barbara Lee, Gregory Meeks, Jackie Speier and Alan Lowenthal.

The letter reads in part: 

September 10, 2020 Press Release


MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) remembered the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, and made the following statement:

“We all remember what we were doing when we first heard and saw the horrors of 9/11. I was at Ground Zero weeks after the attacks and saw the wreckage of the Twin Towers. The losses suffered by the FDNY and NYPD have been in my thoughts ever since. Nineteen years on, we highly resolve never to forget those we have lost and promise to take care of all survivors and their loved ones.”

September 9, 2020 Press Release

MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), a senior member of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (or CSCE, also known as the Helsinki Commission), tonight wrote to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to condemn the crackdown on academic freedom in his country and recent limitations on freedom of expression. Congressman Cohen noted that the OSCE expressed a similar concern in a resolution passed in 2017.

The Congressman’s letter reads in part:

July 23, 2020 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), a senior member of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, today chaired a hearing on press freedom in the United States. Congressman Cohen noted that, according to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, there have been more than 500 attacks on journalists during Black Lives Matter protests since May 26. Congressman Cohen also expressed his concern about Trump Administration efforts to muzzle the Voice of America.

In his opening remarks, Congressman Cohen said:

July 12, 2020 Press Release

MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), the senior co-chair of the Caucus on U.S.–Turkey Relations and Turkish Americans, today condemned Turkish President Recep Tayyyip Erdogan’s decision Friday to reconvert the Hagia Sophia from a secular museum celebrating Turkish culture to a mosque. The move to convert the iconic monument, inaugurated in 537 as a Byzantine Christian cathedral and later named a mosque in 1453, was widely seen as an effort to bolster Erdogan’s domestic appeal to conservative Muslims in Istanbul where he once served as mayor.

May 22, 2020 Press Release

MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) released the following statement today in recognition of Memorial Day on Monday:

February 21, 2020 Press Release


WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), a senior member of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) appointed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, today spoke against anti-Semitism at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Winter meeting in Vienna, Austria. The CSCE is also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission.

In his remarks, Congressman Cohen said:

January 30, 2020 Press Release


WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today voted to prohibit federal funds from being used for military actions in or against Iran unless Congress has declared war.  Congressman Cohen also voted to repeal the outdated and unnecessary 2002 Iraq Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). Under the Constitution, Congress has the sole duty to declare war and these votes reassert Congress’ authority over this solemn duty.  

After the vote, Congressman Cohen made the following statement: