In an op-ed published The Washington Post, NTI Co-Chairmen Sam Nunn and Ernest J. Moniz make the case for the creation of a liaison group, to work with the executive branch to manage and improve U.S.-Russian relations.
"With both the White House and Congress having a hand on the steering wheel for Russia policy, perspective at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue is crucial," they write. "Congress must organize itself to be a constructive player, and the Trump administration must acknowledge this reality by reaching out."
Nunn and Moniz drew on history, using the Senate Arms Control Observer Group as an example. "A liaison group, which could include the chairs and ranking minority-party members of key committees from both houses of Congress, should be appointed by congressional leadership to work closely with the administration to receive briefings and offer constructive feedback. The closest Cold War parallel is the Senate Arms Control Observer Group established by Sens. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) and Bob Dole (R-Kan.) to communicate regularly with Secretary of State George Shultz and the arms control negotiators during the Reagan era. It worked, thanks to sustained focus by members of Congress and unprecedented cooperation with the State Department and the White House."
Highlighting the unique relationship between the United States and Russia, as the two owners of the two largest nuclear arsenals, they write,"Finally, Washington and Moscow must recognize that despite their deep differences, there is an urgent need to address areas of common interest, chief among them reducing nuclear and other military risks and preventing catastrophic terrorist attacks. We had ongoing dialogue about nuclear risks during the Cold War, and the lack of it today is dangerous. "
Imploring members to understand the stakes and value of a liaison group, they underscore their bottom line: "Reestablishing close cooperation between the White House and Congress through a liaison group is an essential prerequisite to renewing cohesion with NATO and our European partners — and effective communication between Washington and Moscow on our vital mutual-security interests."
Read the full op-ed.