Washington D.C. – Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX), Lead Republican of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, made the following statement applauding the passage of bipartisan measures through the House Foreign Affairs Committee, including his PLASTICS Act and American Values and Security in International Athletics Act. Congressman McCaul also thanked Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY) for his service and friendship on the committee.

Click to Watch

-Remarks as Delivered-

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for having this markup. Over the last 21 months I’ve been proud to work with you on countless measures, including those we will consider here today.

“I know this won’t be my last opportunity, but I want to say thank you, Chairman Engel, for advancing so many important, bipartisan measures and for your personal friendship. I know I speak for everyone here today when I say that you will be missed.

“I just hope the next Congress can work as bipartisan as this one has, because if we don’t, we don’t get anything done. That’s one thing I’ve learned in eight terms of Congress — if you don’t work across the aisle effectively, it’s really hard to get good things done for the American people. And that’s what the American people really want. And you have been a shining example of that, sir, and it’s been an honor to serve with you.

“I’d like to start by discussing an issue very close to my heart —an issue close to the heart of many Texans and Americans. Today we are considering a resolution introduced by Mr. Conaway and myself, calling for the release of Trevor Reed, a Texan and former U.S. Marine, who is being held as a political prisoner in Russia. Earlier this month, I was joined by Trevor’s mother, Paula, when we introduced the resolution. She told me about her son, an Eagle Scout and former U.S. Marine, who had served his country with distinction. She told me how he was pursuing the American dream and that the Putin regime had taken that away from him when he sentenced Trevor to nine years in a Russian labor camp on baseless charges.

“Passing this resolution will show that we in the Congress are committing to standing with Trevor, Paula, and his entire family every day until we can finally bring Trevor home and give him back his future.

“This resolution will also send a strong message to the Putin regime that America will not stand idly by as Putin and his cronies hold U.S. citizens as political pawns.

“I will also be offering an amendment today on a resolution calling for the release of Austin Tice and Majd Kamalmaz, two Texans who have been wrongfully detained in Syria for many, many years. I’ve met with Austin Tice’s parents many times and have seen the pain in their eyes as they describe the eight years they have spent trying to bring their son home while he sits in a Syrian prison in the worst conditions. I want to thank the administration for doing everything they have done to bring home Trevor, Austin, Majd, and all the Americans detained abroad. Congress will not rest and I will not rest until they have been safely reunited with their families.

“Today we will be considering 28 measures total, and while we unfortunately could not agree on all of them, even the bills where we disagree on the details, we agree on the problems we face. And while I can’t highlight all the good bills we will be considering, I want to thank some of my Republican colleagues for working on several bills for the markup, specifically Mrs. Wagner for her work on the Sex Trafficking Demand Reduction Act, Mr. Chabot for his work on the Tropical Forest and Coral Reef Conservation Re-Authorization Act, and Mr. Smith for his work on re-authorizing the Belarus Democracy Act.

“I’m also pleased that we will be considering two bills I introduced with Chairman Engel, the PLASTICS Act and the American Values and Security in International Athletics Act. The Partnering and Leveraging Assistance to Stop Trash for International Cleaner Seas or PLASTICS Act would authorize the State Department and USAID to prioritize efforts to improve waste management systems and prevent and reduce plastic waste in developing countries.

“Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastic enter the oceans through the rivers. China contributes the largest share of this mismanaged waste, followed by other developing countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. This bill prioritizes U.S. leadership and supports partnerships with the private sector in order to support market-based solutions and leverage private capital. Our work to combat plastic waste is an investment in future generations and the health of our oceans and communities.

“The American Values and Security in International Athletics Act would direct the State Department to establish a briefing program for American athletic delegations on human rights and privacy concerns in certain countries.

“The Chinese Communist Party used the 2008 Beijing summer Olympics to whitewash its image and now is set to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. Ensuring team USA is appropriately informed about human rights issues and intrusive surveillance will help prevent the CCP from using the Olympics to generate undeserved, positive publicity.

“The Chinese Communist Party is the greatest long-term national security threat to the interests of the United States of America. The American people have woken up to their malign influence, and yesterday, Republicans released our policy blueprint to address their harmful behavior, two-thirds of which, Mr. Chairman, are bipartisan bills. I look forward to working with my friends across the aisle to help address this generational challenge. So with that, Chairman Engel, I again want to thank you for holding this markup and for your leadership and also your friendship.”