Washington, DC – House Foreign Affairs Committee Lead Republican Michael McCaul delivered the following opening statement at today’s full committee hearing with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the Biden Administration’s priorities for U.S. foreign policy.

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– Opening Remarks as Delivered –

“Thank you for joining us today and for your early outreach to me as well. I look forward to working with you over the next four years.

America’s leadership in the world has never been more vital.

Let me begin with China.

As the pandemic continues to rage, killing millions worldwide, the Chinese Communist Party is using the fear and desperation created by the virus – the virus the CCP’s cover up allowed to spread – to sow chaos and further their own authoritarian agenda.

As I have said many times before, the CCP poses a generational threat.

As we speak, they are: Committing genocide against ethnic and religious minorities; aggressively stealing U.S. intellectual property; threatening Taiwan; ratcheting up their military aggression in the region; and preying on nations with their Belt and Road Initiative.

We also know the CCP wants to re-engineer the world.

Xi promotes his Marxist ideology as a better way than democracy.

On the same day, sir, that you gave your speech last week, Xi said ‘The biggest source of chaos in the present-day world is the United States.’

This is why, and I know you treat them seriously, we cannot treat them as a normal adversary. And I wish you the best of luck in your discussions with them in Alaska, as that was just announced.

We are truly in an ideological struggle – fighting for democracy against authoritarianism, and promoting freedom over oppression.

For forty years, we turned a blind eye to the CCP’s nature in the hopes we could bring them into the community of nations. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work.

And as you said in your speech, quote ‘China is the only country with the economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to seriously challenge the stable and open international system.’ And I agree with you, sir. And I stand ready to work with you and the president to confront them.

Let me turn to Russia.

I have repeatedly said that Mr Putin is not our friend.

While the sanctions in response to Navalny’s poisoning and wrongful detention were an important step, if this administration really wants to counter the Putin regime’s malign influence, it must ensure the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is never completed.

And I want to be clear: If we allow this pipeline to be completed, it would be a tremendous victory for Vladimir Putin.

Yet the mandatory sanctions passed with bipartisan, bicameral support in the last two National Defense Authorization bills have not been fully implemented. We are deeply concerned with the administration’s strong statements opposing the pipeline are not being matched by equally strong actions.

I hope you use the opportunity today to explain these sanctions and why they have not been fully implemented; there are multiple open source reports that work is occurring, and to detail administration’s plans to stop the completion of this pipeline.

Let me turn from Russia to another adversarial threat: Iran.

Under President Trump, the United States applied a maximum pressure campaign against Iran. President Trump’s crippling sanctions gave President Biden an opportunity that we cannot afford to squander.

Unfortunately, I fear we are headed down a path where that may not happen. So, I really want to strongly recommend – in the strongest terms – to commit that any updated deal with Iran will: include no sunset provisions; require any time, anywhere inspections by the IAEA, including military sites; address Iran’s ballistic missile program; require Iran to permanently cease its aggression in the region and to stop providing support to terrorist entities; and finally, demand Iran’s release of all of our hostages.

Above all, I want to encourage you to make sure the deal has the buy-in of the American people this time around.  And that means, I believe, it should be approved by the United States Senate as a treaty.

As we speak, there are reports of violence against civilians in the Tigray region of Ethiopia and in Burma.

And while we face yet another border crisis, criminal groups continue to transport illegal drugs into the United States while socialist dictators destabilize our own hemisphere here.

We are ten years into the civil war in Syria, with no clear end in sight. And the Taliban is killing innocent civilians and Afghan security forces at unprecedented levels.

All this while COVID continues to cause further instability in fragile nations, creating opportunities for terrorist organizations and other malign entities.

You certainly have many challenges that we face, but we face them together as a nation – as Republicans and Democrats – and I look forward to working with you and thank you for being here today. And I yield back.”