Washington D.C. – Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX), Lead Republican of the House Foreign Affairs Committee delivered the following opening statement at today’s full committee hearing  on U.S. policy in Iran.


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– Remarks as Delivered –

“Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing. I will not repeat the arguments I made last week during the War Powers floor debate, other than to say the world is safer without Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s terror commander, on the battlefield. I think this is something you and I both agree on. Former Obama DHS Secretary and DoD General Counsel Jeh Johnson, a friend of mine, said Soleimani was a “lawful military objective, and no further Congressional authorization was necessary. ” And I agree with the former Obama Administration cabinet member. I talked to him extensively about these strikes and he used to authorize these strikes during the Obama Administration and they conducted thousands of them.

“I wish Democrats would join in praising the President as Republicans did when Osama bin Laden was killed. In many ways Soleimani was just as important if not more important of a target. I know that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are also relieved that this threat has been eliminated, but they may not be able to say so publicly. I wish they were more willing to recognize that the Administration made the right decision in taking out Soleimani. Debating issues of war and peace is perhaps our most important responsibility on this committee and as Members of Congress.

“I am glad that we are finally exerting our jurisdiction under Article 1, as I am sure we are not done dealing with the issue. Soleimani, make no mistake, was the mastermind of terror in the Middle East for over two decades. He was designated as a terrorist by President Obama. He was responsible for the deaths of over 600 Americans and wounding thousands more. Last year, Iran attacked six commercial ships and downed a US drone. Beginning in October, Soleimani orchestrated 11 attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq, killing an American and wounding four U.S. service members. Soleimani ordered an attack on our Embassy in Baghdad. 

“The damage was extensive, as shown in these pictures. We are lucky that no Embassy personnel were hurt or taken hostage. Two days after the attack on our Embassy, the Administration struck Soleimani because, to quote Secretary Pompeo, he was “actively plotting to take big action…that would put dozens if not hundreds of US lives at risk.” This was an imminent threat. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Milley, said the Administration would have been “culpably negligent” if they hadn’t acted.

“And what if the President had not acted, and more Americans were killed in an attack directed by Soleimani? What would the President’s critics have said then? I believe having been in the White House, the President has shown great restraint regarding Iran. Many other presidents may have struck after the drone was down. Many other Presidents would have struck after the American was killed. Many other Presidents would strike when the embassy was attacked. How many Americans and how many embassies need to be attacked before we respond? The President has been clear and told me personally just last week that he does not want war with Iran, he wants to deescalate not escalate. And he has been very clear with respect to his strategy on Iran. As he told the nation on Wednesday, he wants a deal that allows Iran to thrive and prosper, provided that Iran finally ends its destabilizing activities in the Middle East.

“Iran needs to stop its nuclear program. Stop developing ballistic missiles. Stop supporting terrorist and proxies. Stop taking hostages. Stop oppressing its own people and act as a responsible, normal nation would on the world stage. For the second time in recent months, the Iranian people are bravely protesting the conduct of this theocratic despotic regime. Protestors across Iran are furious because the regime shot down a commercial airliner last week, killing 176 innocent people, many of whom were Iranian. Even worse, the regime did not even admit to having done it for three days. They intentionally lied to their people and to the world.

“We are already seeing allegations, including video footage, depicting the regime’s violence against protestors, these are human rights violations. An Iranian Olympic medalist announced this weekend that she was defecting Iran because of “hypocrisy, lies, injustice and flattery.” Yesterday, Iran’s State TV anchor resigned, after more than 13 years, saying, “It was very hard for me to believe the killing of my countrymen. I apologize for lying to you on TV for 13 years.” In November, the Iranian regime brutally suppressed popular protests sparked by an increase in gasoline prices, shutting down the internet and then  killing 1500 of their own citizens. 

“Let me be clear, we stand with the people of Iran demanding accountability from their leaders. And I want to thank the President for loudly and clearly defending the rights of the Iranian people and urging the regime not to use violence against them. I’d like to close by focusing on Iraq. The United States supports a strong, sovereign, and prosperous Iraq. Those responsible for violence against protestors and journalists must be held accountable, including for the killing of two journalists in Basra this weekend. We stand with the Iraqi people and support their right to freely assemble.  We will always support freedom wherever it is and we will always support human rights wherever it is a struggle. I thank the witnesses for their service. I look forward to their testimony.”