WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today delivered the following remarks during a full committee markup:
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for calling this markup, and thank you to all our colleagues for their hard work.
“These are ten good measures before us today, and I’m pleased to support them all.
“First, I’d like to discuss H.R. 5273, the Global Fragility and Violence Reduction Act, which I authored with Representatives Poe, McCaul, Keating and others. Thank you all and thanks, Mr. Chairman, for bringing this up today.
“Global levels of violence are at a 25-year peak. And when a region faces violence, the effects are felt far and wide. Economic development backslides, global stability wavers, terrorists thrive, and people flee their homes, creating large-scale refugee and migrant crises.
“So, it’s critical that we work to prevent this violence from happening in the first place. Since September 11th, we have learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to stabilizing conflicts and preventing violence from breaking out. Those lessons should shape American policy.
“That’s what this bill does. It establishes an initiative to reduce fragility and violence that will align American engagement with the lessons we have learned. It will require the State Department, USAID, and the Department of Defense to coordinate their diplomatic, development, and security activities—with a focus on ten priority countries—and it requires best practices as we work with partners, measure results, and adapt to changing conditions.
“We need to update our government’s policies to prevent violence, and I ask all members to join me in supporting the bill.
“And when unspeakable violence does occur, we need to properly recognize the perpetrators of those crimes and hold them accountable. Mr. Donovan’s measure, H.Res. 1055, would help do so by reaffirming the historic U.S. relationship with Liberia, and calling for the government of Liberia to hold accountable those who carried out mass violence and atrocities during the country’s civil war in the 1990s.
“In places where instability leads to terrorism and conflict, it’s important that we collaborate with our allies in a united, interagency effort. So, I support Mr. McCaul’s Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership Act, which strengthens our work across the U.S. government to assist partners in the Sahel and Maghreb regions of Africa to counter terrorism and violent extremism.
“Our partnerships with foreign countries are important for economic development as well, especially when it comes to our neighbors. That brings me to Mr. Cuellar’s United States-Mexico Economic Partnership Act. Mexico is a friend and ally...our third-largest trading partner...and a country with which we share extraordinarily close cultural and familial ties. This bill requires the Secretary of State to expand educational and professional exchange programs with Mexico. It’s important that we send a strong message to the Mexican people that the United States Congress will not walk away from them despite the damage that has been done to its relationship in recent months and years.
“I’ll turn now to a resolution condemning the dire humanitarian situation in Venezuela sponsored by Representatives Cooks and Sires. The current situation in Venezuela is really just horrendous. President Maduro has turned the country into a full-fledged dictatorship and victimized his citizens. It’s a tragedy which requires world leaders to speak out—but not with the sort of reckless threats and bellicose rhetoric we’ve heard from the administration. This measure represents a strong, bipartisan message from Congress, and I urge all members to support it.
“Keeping countries stable is critical, especially in areas where foreign governments are seeking to create disorder. Mr. Kinzinger’s and Mr. Suozzi’s Preventing Destabilization of Iraq Act works to prevent dangerous outsiders from nefariously interfering in Iraq by slapping sanctions on any foreign person conducting significant destabilizing activities in that country. Especially at this time in Iraq, it is important that the United States send a clear signal to the Iraqi people and regional actors that what happens in Iraq matters to the United States, that we have an interest, and I thank my colleagues for this bill.
“Next, I’ll discuss the PEPFAR Extension Act. As the sponsor of the last PEPFAR reauthorization in 2013, I am proud to support the bipartisan bill before us today. PEPFAR, as the Chairman mentioned, is a landmark program dedicated to combatting the spread of HIV/AIDS. Thanks to PEPFAR, 14 million men, women and children are on lifesaving treatment. And more than 2 million babies were born HIV-free to mothers living with HIV. This is remarkable progress, and we must keep striving for more. The PEPFAR Extension Act before us today will help ensure this phenomenal work continues for another five years. It’s an excellent program with bipartisan support and I urge all members to join me in voting for this measure.
“I’d also like to recognize Mr. Castro’s resolution affirming U.S.-Australia cooperation on space research and exploration. I support this measure that highlights this important area of international cooperation with one of America’s closest friends and allies.
“Next, Congressman Sandy Levin’s measure that recognizes the 85th anniversary of the 1932 famine in Ukraine. As we watch the Russian occupation in Crimea and aggression against eastern Ukraine, we’re reminded that this horrific human tragedy was designed by Stalin to crack down on Ukrainian resistance to Soviet rule. With this measure Congress solemnly remembers the millions of Ukrainians who perished in this genocide. I urge all members to support it.
“Another good bill before us today is the STOP Organ Trafficking Act. I want to thank Representatives Deutch and Trott for reintroducing this measure, which passed with overwhelming support in the last Congress. The need for transplant organs throughout the world has led to a gruesome underground trade of organs. It’s horrifying, and we need to have laws and research directed at solving this. This bill is a step in the right direction. I urge all members to support the measure.
“Once again thank you to all our members. Thank you for your hard work on this committee over the last two years.”