Solution Series Roundtable: The Mechanics of a Deal

On October 3, Partnership for a Secure America hosted an off-the-record Bipartisan Negotiation Panel to provide practical lessons in effective negotiation and bipartisan policy development.  The panel was led by Lara Flint, former Chief Counsel for National Security for Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Bart Forsyth, former Chief of Staff for Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI).

The first of the Bipartisan Negotiation Panel series, this dinner event focused on the negotiation tactics behind the creation and passage of the USA FREEDOM ACT of 2015. As key architects, Lara Flint and Bart Forsyth evaluated their own roles and strategies in the passage of the Freedom Act. This series will build off of the knowledge obtained by Congressional Partnership Program participants during their negotiation training.  Dinners will feature candid, deep-diving conversations with accomplished former and current senior Congressional Staff to explore the “mechanics of a deal” behind bipartisan legislation in national security and foreign policy arena.

Lara Flint

Lara Flint is the Associate Director for Oversight and Congressional Capacity at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Lara leads the Governance Program’s work to strengthen safeguards that ensure our government is transparent and accountable to the public.

Lara is a skilled advocate with more than 15 years of legal, public policy and government experience, including a decade on Capitol Hill. Most recently she served as chief counsel for national security to then-Chairman Patrick Leahy of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where she led the committee’s work on national security, privacy, and technology, and was instrumental to enactment of the bipartisan USA FREEDOM Act of 2015 — the first major surveillance reform legislation in decades. Previously, Lara served as senior counsel on the Judiciary Committee to Senator Russ Feingold.

Between her Senate positions, Lara joined the State Department Office of the Legal Adviser, where she advised senior State Department officials on counterterrorism, law of war, and use of force issues. Prior to her government service, Lara worked on policy at the intersection of technology and national security at the Center for Democracy & Technology, and conducted a broad range of litigation at the law firm of Jenner & Block. Lara is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, and Harvard Law School.


Bart Forsyth

Bart Forsyth currently serves as a deputy vice president with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.  He began his career in Washington as an Attorney Adviser at the Department of Labor.  He later served as legal counsel to four House congressional committees:  Foreign Affairs, Science, Judiciary, and the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, the latter of which he was also chief of staff.

From 2012-2017, he was the chief of staff to Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner.  In this role, he had the pleasure of staffing several major legislative efforts, including the USA FREEDOM Act—a bill to institute sweeping intelligence reforms—and the Voting Rights Amendment Act—a modernization of the historic civil rights legislation.  More recently, he helped spearhead the Judicial Redress Act, a law that facilitated the sharing of law enforcement information between countries by providing citizens of designated countries access to U.S. courts.  Bart graduated magna cum laude from Washington and Lee University School of Law.

Off-the-Record Dinner with Admiral Robert Papp


The Arctic Frontier

Partnership for a Secure America was thrilled to host an off-the-record dinner on August 20 with Admiral Robert Papp, former Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. The dinner discussion was attended by participants in the Summer 2018 Congressional Partnership Program.

Admiral Papp addressed current national security challenges facing the United States including the strategic role the Arctic plays in advancing US security interests. He stressed the growing strategic importance of the Arctic as it relates to environmental, maritime security, and economic issues. Of particular concern was China’s growing interest and role in the region as well as Russia’s military expansion in the Arctic Circle and the effects these developments could have on global politics. Admiral Papp made clear that as climate change persists and ice in the Arctic melts, human activity from Russia, China, and elsewhere will only increase, creating new challenges and opportunities in the region. Admiral Papp concluded by sharing the lessons he learned as Chief of Congressional Affairs for the Coast Guard regarding the importance of bipartisanship and its role in building compromise and enacting sound policy.


Admiral Robert Papp

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Robert “Bob” Papp came onboard representing Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Inc. in Washington. D.C. in January 2017 and leads the strategic engagement in intergovernmental and industry operations. Admiral Papp served as an Officer in the Coast Guard for nearly 40 years, completing his career as the 24th Commandant of the U. S. Coast Guard from 2010 to 2014. The Coast Guard is the largest component of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). He was a career cutterman, serving in six cutters, commanding four of them, including the Coast Guard’s square rigged sailing ship, USCG Barque EAGLE. As a flag officer, Admiral Papp served as Commander, Coast Guard Atlantic Area; as the Chief of Staff of the Coast Guard and Commanding Officer of Coast Guard Headquarters; as Commander, Ninth Coast Guard District; and as Director of Reserve and Training.


Upon retirement from the Coast Guard, he was called to duty at the U.S Department of State as the U.S. Special Representative for the Arctic, where he led the effort to advance U.S. interests in the Arctic Region, with a focus on Arctic Ocean governance, climate change, economic, environmental, and security issues in the Arctic region as the United States holds the chairmanship of the Arctic Council from 2015-2017.

Solutions Series Roundtable: Trade

On Monday, July 30th, Partnership for a Secure America held an off-the-record roundtable dinner for alumni of the Congressional Partnership Program to discuss trade, the growing use of tariffs, and the potential for a larger trade war. The conversation focused on how the U.S. and Congress can respond to help American workers without damaging relationships with allies.

Trade and Tariffs

Beginning in 2018, President Trump imposed significant tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese imports in addition to 25% tariffs on all imported aluminium and 10% tariffs on all imported steel. Both China and close trading partners such as the European Union and Canada responded swiftly, imposing their own retaliatory tariffs on a variety of American goods. The country is divided in regards to this shift in American trade policy. These divisions – unlike with many other issues – are not necessarily partisan but are based largely on the economic prospects for various industries in the context of a trade war.

Key Details

Trade Expansion Act of 1962

  • Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 gives the president the unilateral authority to alter tariff levels on certain imports if an investigation by the secretary of commerce determines that these imports threaten American national security. The Trump administration cited this law as the legal authority for the imposition of new tariffs without congressional approval.

Relevant Incidents

  • March 2018
    • President Trump announces that his administration will impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminium. U.S. stock markets fell sharply in response with the Dow Jones industrial average dropping 420 points on the same day and the NASDAQ and S&P each dropping 1.3%.
  • May 2018
    • President Trump applies tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from Canada, Mexico, and the European Union. These countries had initially been exempted from these barriers.
  • June 2018
    • President Trump releases the final list of Chinese imports that will be targeted by 25% tariffs – a total value of approximately $34 billion in goods. China immediately responds with retaliatory tariffs.
  • July 25
    • President Trump meets with President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Junker to negotiate a deal to avert a trade war between the United States and the European Union. In a joint press release, the two announced they would work together to remove tariffs and other trade barriers.

CPP Summer 2018 Retreat

On July 21st and 22nd, participants in the Summer 2018 class of the Congressional Partnership Program joined foreign policy and national security experts for a weekend of thought provoking discussions and bipartisan team-building. This retreat was a great opportunity for participants to assess global challenges, explore differences, and build common ground.


Bipartisan Panel on the USA Freedom Act of 2015

Participants heard from Lara Flint, former Chief Counsel for Sen. Patrick Leahy, who discussed the Freedom Act of 2015.


Lara Flint – Former Chief Counsel for Sen. Patrick Leahy

Keynote Address

The keynote address was provided by Ambassador Ron Neumann who discussed current and future global foreign policy challenges.


Ambassador Ron Neumann – Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and Ambassador to Afghanistan, Bahrain and Algeria.

Breakout Sessions

Ambassador Frank Wisner and Ambassador Cameron Munter discussed challenges facing the western Balkans.

Ambassador Maura Connelly discussed Syria’s future.



Ambassador Frank Wisner – Former Undersecretary of State for International Security Affairs

Ambassador Cameron Munter – Former Ambassador to Pakistan and Serbia

Ambassador Maura Connelly – Former Ambassador to Lebanon and Chargé d’Affaires to Syria


National Security Council Simulation


Participants engaged in a National Security Council Simulation led by Mr. Robert Sheldon to advance strategic negotiation and communication skills.


Mr. Robert Sheldon – Director of Government Technology Strategy at CrowdStrike

CPP Summer 2018: Strategic Negotiation and Communication Training

On July 10th and 11th, participants in the Summer 2018 Congressional Partnership Program attended a training session on negotiation and communication skills led by Randy Kutz, founder of Negotiation Training 360. The session focused on enhancing key negotiation and active communication skills. Participants practiced collaborative negotiation tactics in a simulation after the lecture.

Randy Kutz

With over 30 years of business, marketing, training and leadership experiences from a cross-section of industries, Randy Kutz has a passion for helping others to succeed in their professional and personal life. His training style cultivates a deeper sense of purpose and conviction for his audience that is contagious. Consistent testimonies demonstrate that those who went through Randy’s training walk away with real world knowledge they can apply immediately in their current negotiations, and a renewed energy for working in the people side of their business.

Prior to founding Negotiation Training 360, Randy was the Vice President of Operations and a national trainer with Negotiation Expertise, LLC and The Real Estate Negotiation Institute. He has logged over 1,200 training hours and taught over 3,000 professionals on the art, science, and application of negotiation. Randy also spent time in the trenches, learning to negotiate in contexts with significant complexities and seemingly intractable, high stakes situations. Most notably, Randy spent 8 years working in the U.S. House of Representatives, and 5 of those years he served as a Chief of Staff to former Rep. Trent Franks (AZ-08) in Washington, D.C.

His extensive business and management experience is what he brought to his position as Chief of Staff and policy advisor for the Congressman. In his leadership role, he regularly engaged with international dignitaries at Think Tanks, Embassy visits, business round tables and policy events on a host of geo-political issues. His travels include Europe, Asia, and the Middle East for educational and cultural exchanges with various community groups, business leaders, military and government officials as well as Heads of State. In 2013-15 he served as VP of the D.C. Chapter of People to People International, a global non-profit founded by President Eisenhower.

Randy is a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran and holds his B.A. in Sociology & Culture and his MBA in e-Business. Additionally, he is a graduate of the highly acclaimed Harvard Executive Leadership Program on Negotiation, and has completed advanced training at the Air War College, the U.S. Institute of Peace, the Partnership for a Secure America’s Congressional Partnership Program, and received certification as a Professional Behaviors and Motivators Analyst.

Randy is a husband, father and grandfather and resides with his family in Phoenix, Arizona.

CPP Summer 2018: Orientation

The Partnership for a Secure America (PSA) welcomed 30 Congressional staff members into the Summer 2018 Congressional Partnership Program (CPP) class. The program, in it’s 19th session, brings together Republican and Democratic staff to develop the skills and relationships required to advance bipartisanship on national security and foreign policy issues.

Through policy seminars, a weekend retreat, and networking activities, this program aims to equip the next generation of foreign policy and national security experts to respect differences, build common ground, and achieve U.S. national interests. The schedule will include opportunities for participants to meet with current and former public officials and other key policy experts.

Off-the-Record Dinner Discussion

On June 18th, Partnership for a Secure America held an off-the-record dinner for participants in the Congressional Partnership Program to discuss our nation’s future regarding foreign policy and national security. This was the last event in the Spring 2018 Congressional Partnership Program.

Participants in the program were able to talk openly about the state of bipartisanship within the current Congress and the feasibility of offices on opposite sides of the aisle working together. The staffers detailed the ways in which Congress’ relationship with the public affects its bipartisan work. Within the discussion’s broader framework, participants discussed issues such as defense spending and trade.



Off-the-Record Dinner with Joan O’Hara

On June 4,  Partnership for a Secure America hosted an off-the-record dinner for participants in the Spring 2018 Congressional Partnership Program with Joan O’Hara, Deputy National Security Advisor to the Vice President. Ms. O’Hara discussed the National Security Strategy, the upcoming summit between the U.S. and North Korea and the role of trade in foreign policy.

Joan O’Hara

Joan O’Hara joined the OVP NSA as Deputy National Security Advisor in February 2017, and served as Acting National Security Advisor from September 2017 through April 2018.

Prior to joining the Administration, Joan served as General Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, Majority Staff.  As General Counsel, Joan provided legal advice to the Committee Chairman on national security matters, and played a central role in developing the Committee’s policy positions and legislative agenda. Working closely with House Leadership, Members of Congress, interagency principals, and private sector stakeholders, she shepherded bills through the legislative process from drafting to passage into law.

Before entering law, Joan enjoyed more than a decade of experience as an elite athlete and award-winning NCAA Division I Head Coach in the sport of Rowing.  As a Resident Athlete at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in California, Joan trained with the U.S. Olympic Rowing Team and was United States National Champion in the Single Sculls and Quadruple Sculls.

Joan holds a B.A. from Loyola University, an M.A. from San Diego State University, and a J.D. cum laude from New York Law School. She hails from Long Island, New York.

Off-the-Record Discussion with Matt Olsen

On May 21, Partnership for a Secure America hosted an off-the-record dinner for participants in the Spring 2018 Congressional Partnership Program with Matt Olsen, the former director of the National Counterterrorism Center. Mr. Olsen discussed the threat of terrorism, the rise of China, and the continuing challenges the cyber domain poses to U.S. national security.

Matt Olsen

Image result for matt olsenMatt Olsen has served as a leading government official on a range of national security, intelligence, and law enforcement issues.

Mr. Olsen served for three years as the Director of the National Counterterrorism Center. Created by Congress in response to the attacks of September 11, 2001, NCTC is responsible for the integration and analysis of terrorism information and strategic operational planning.

Prior to joining NCTC, Mr. Olsen was the General Counsel of the National Security Agency, serving as the agency’s chief legal officer.

Mr. Olsen worked at the Department of Justice in a number of leadership positions. He served as an Associate Deputy Attorney General, responsible for national security and criminal cases. He also was Special Counselor to the Attorney General and Executive Director of the Guantanamo Review Task Force, where he led the review of individuals detained at Guantanamo. Mr. Olsen served as acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security and helped establish the National Security Division.

For twelve years, Mr. Olsen was a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., prosecuting violent gang members, terrorists, and white-collar criminals. Mr. Olsen served as Special Counsel to the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He began his public service career as a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.

Mr. Olsen currently is an executive at a cyber security technology firm, a lecturer at Harvard Law School, and ABC News analyst. He graduated from the University of Virginia and Harvard Law School.