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Washington, D.C. – Today, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul delivered opening remarks at a full committee hearing with high-level State Department officials on the Biden administration’s policies in the Western Hemisphere. During his remarks, Chairman McCaul called for stronger action to combat our adversaries who are working together to undermine U.S. national security interests and promote authoritarianism in the Western Hemisphere and around the world.


— Remarks as delivered —

As this committee continues to examine the growing malign influence of our adversaries around the world and the American response to it, it is essential that we assess the nature and extent of the risks that we are facing in our own hemisphere.

Under the Biden administration, China, Russia, and Iran have bolstered their presence in the region.

They have cornered critical mineral markets, expanded their military footprint, and deepened their intelligence capabilities.

All aided and abetted by many authoritarian regimes in the Americas.

As we speak, four Russian warships, including a nuclear-powered submarine, and a frigate carrying hypersonic missiles are set to arrive in Cuba.

China is bankrolling the dictatorship in Nicaragua, and Iran is looking to station Quds Forces in Venezuela.

China is infiltrating countries in Latin America and successfully pressuring nations that once recognized Taiwan only to abandon their support.

[The] CCP has invested billions in infrastructure and critical minerals throughout the hemisphere. 

For example, China maintains ports on both sides of the Panama Canal and is heavily invested in mining operations in Latin America.

Additionally, they have many more commercial officers than we do at their embassies working deals and have targeted [public relations] campaigns that undermine American interests.

Congress has given the President tools to combat and compete with the great powers.

It has authorized the [U.S. International Development Finance Corporation], appropriated bilateral economic assistance, and provided funding through the CHIPS Act – which I authored and passed into law – to secure our supply chains.

It has mandated corruption sanctions against foreign officials and their family members.

And yet, the Biden administration has not effectively used all the tools Congress has provided.

The result is a hemisphere more and more aligned with our adversaries.

On illegal immigration, we are seeing the mass waves of illegal immigrants at our southern border and the flow of deadly drugs like fentanyl into our country.

I have worked on border issues for 25 years, both as a federal prosecutor and as the Deputy Attorney General for the state of Texas, and as the former chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, but I’ve never seen this border more broken.

We had addressed this problem – with the Migrant Protection Protocols, otherwise known as “Remain in Mexico.” But one of the first actions of this administration was to rescind it.

One stroke of the pen wiped away four years of progress.

In fact, just yesterday it was reported that eight foreign nationals from Tajikistan were arrested in America.

They came across the southern border and were, “vetted,” and allowed to remain in the country. They are believed to have ties to ISIS-K.  

Securing our border is a national security priority.  

That is why in January, I went down to Mexico to talk to then-candidate Claudia Sheinbaum about ways to work together on fentanyl and immigration.

I congratulate her own her election. I hope she takes seriously the immigration issue and fentanyl.

Today is an opportunity, though, to evaluate the administration’s work and assess next steps.

Our adversaries cannot be separated. They are all connected and they are all working together.

We can’t win the game if we are not on the field competing.

I want to thank our three witnesses for being here today.

And in the great power competition in our hemisphere, I believe, that America is falling behind.

I want to be more optimistic and hopefully our witnesses today will give us better news than I have prognosticated, but that is the way I see it.