Chairman McCaul Delivers Opening Remarks at Full Committee Organizational Meeting for 118th CongressPress Release
Washington, DC- Today, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul gave the following remarks at a full committee organizational meeting for the 118th Congress.
-Remarks as delivered-
“First I’d like to start by thanking my dear friend, like I said you’ll always be a Chairman to me, but the title now is Ranking Member. I would say during the last Congress, he showed respect and civility to me and to all of the Members of this committee. And I have every intention of doing the same.
That is the tradition of this committee. This committee, unlike other committees, is a bipartisan committee that has a deep sense of history and a deep sense of respect for each other.
And I appreciate how we accomplished so much last Congress. And I look forward to what we’re gonna do this Congress.
I am honored to serve as the chairman of a committee. For those of you who don’t know the history, it’s really older than our country.
It was first established during the Continental Congress. Its original members included John Jay, who would become the first chief justice of the Supreme Court.
And its first chairman was Benjamin Franklin. Franklin was notorious for a lot of things, but probably his best establishing strong diplomatic ties with our allies, at that time France. And many of whom remain our allies still today.
Now, our charge is to continue the critical work that our Founding Fathers began so long ago dating back to the Continental Congress.
You know and I was at the, you know in Boston I got to see you know where the Constitution Declaration was signed in Independence Hall and it’s just always inspiring to see where our nation was founded and created, and those sacred documents.
And to think that this committee, that the founders were a part of what this committee sprang from makes me even more proud to be sitting here as a Chairman [TURNS TO MEEKS] next to my good friend Greg.
I believe that we should long-standing tradition of bipartisanship. That will continue, I know the climate is hot in Congress right now and the tension.
But when we disagree, we can agree to disagree, and we can do so civilly.
As former Chairman Engel often told me, when it comes to foreign policy, partisanship stops at the water’s edge.
Now we all have our moments, but that’s what great debate is all about. But we can do it with respect for each other.
This committee is so important because it deals with issues of war and peace. We manage the foreign military sales. We manage foreign military financing. We are involved in what’s happening in Ukraine, and in Taiwan. And all across the globe, helping our allies defeat our enemies.
We manage authorized use of force resolutions and the declarations of war. That one has not been used since World War II.
Hopefully, we will not have to use those in this Congress. But we can all agree it’s a pretty hot time right now Russia, Iran, China, and North Korea.
I believe we are in tumultuous times, this committee has never been more relevant in the 20 years I’ve been in Congress. And with the global challenges and the threats we face from our foreign adversaries, I think all of us should be proud of what we’re doing for this committee.
The work that we do is more serious and more important than any other committee I can think of in this great Capitol.
Make no mistake – we are currently in a struggle for the global balance of power right now.
It’s never been more important for us to strengthen our diplomats so they can succeed. Because when they fail, we go to war. And war should always be the last resort. We want our diplomats to succeed. War, as I said, should always be the last option.
In the wake of a Chinese surveillance balloon traversing our country – crossing national security assets and threatening the privacy of Americans – it is clear that we must start our work with confronting the China challenge with substantive actions. The great power competition we find ourselves in today with very substantial and significant actions.
This includes properly arming Taiwan. Many of you might not know, I signed off with the chairman, now ranking member, on weapons sales to Taiwan three years ago that have yet to go into country. We have a defense industrial base problem in this country. That means we can’t make weapons fast enough.
This committee will be charged to work with the Armed Services Committee to fix that threat to our country which General McKenzie told me in his last briefing to me in the SCIF was perhaps the greatest threat that we face right now, to fix that system.
We also need to ensure Ukraine has the tools it needs to defeat the Russian army.
Not just because it is the morally right thing to do in the face of the horrific war crimes Russia has perpetrated in Ukraine.
But it’s also because a Russian loss is a victory for U.S. national security.
The security assistance we have given to Ukraine amounts to just three percent of last year’s DOD budget.
But with that, we have enabled Ukraine to cripple the military of one of our greatest adversaries – without risking the life of a one American soldier. Not one American soldier has gone into harm’s way, and we’ve annihilated the Russian military.
Now they’re throwing prisoners down there without the equipment they need to win this thing. But we can’t do this as a slow pace, we need to do this quickly and end it fast.
I believe that we’ve enabled Ukraine to move on. They can achieve victory of given the right weapons systems. I also believe in the tried-and-true historical lessons that we’ve learned from World War II and other wars that weakness invites aggression.
That when this nation projects strength, we promote peace. When we project weakness, we invite aggression and therefore, we invite war.
So, it’s important that I think we have that projection of power and strength.
The best way to deter China is a Russian loss, because Ukraine today could be the Taiwan tomorrow.
We also need to dig into what has caused dictators like Putin, Xi, the Ayatollah, and Kim Jong-un to become so emboldened since this President took office.
And on that, I think we can agree that all roads lead back to the horrific withdrawal from Afghanistan.
For almost two weeks we watched one horrific scene after another playing out on televisions around the world – and culminating in the Abbey Gate bombing.
We lost 13 U.S. servicemembers on that day, with dozens more wounded in that attack. It was the deadliest day for the U.S. military in Afghanistan since 2011.
We now know the Biden administration left behind more than 1,000 Americans, American citizens, tens of thousands of our Afghan partners, and hundreds of thousands of at-risk Afghans and many more women under the rule of the Taliban.
We owe our veterans, and our gold star mothers and families. To give them answers as to what happened. Why did this go so wrong? Why did this go so badly? And this should be a bipartisan oversight exercise for our veterans and for those who paid, and gave the ultimate price and the ultimate sacrifice.
That’s why our first hearing will be on China, our second hearing that we will kick off will be our investigation into what happened during the withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Our committee also has jurisdiction over the root causes of migration.
The former President helped to secure the border. But with the stroke of a pen, this was rescinded.
Now, the border is worse than I have ever seen it in my lifetime. So, we are going to look into re-establishing the 3rd party asylum cooperative agreements and the Remain in Mexico agreements that were working. That the cartels understood that these policies kept them out of the United States, where today they were then released into our society under catch and release.
And as Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee for three terms and as a former federal prosecutor, I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t.
And political asylum is at the core of this because that creates the magnet that draws the migration to the United States. If you turn the magnet off, you fix the problem.
We are going to see how to we can help American companies invest in Central and South America. Because we know that can help to mitigate illegal immigration. That will get to the root cause because 85% are fleeing because of economic, for economic reasons. Not the 15% for political.
If we can lift, as President Kenndy said, a rising tide lifts all boats, if we can lift their economies and scale, they will stay in their own countries. I believe that the ambassador from Guatemala said so well, I don’t want aid, I want trade. I want private, American investment in my country.
I don’t want to lose a generation that will leave my country for yours. I want them to stay. So I think that private investment gets to the root cause.
And now to really the fun part, I want to now welcome back our returning Members. But also welcome the new Republican Members of this Committee.
I really think you’re going to enjoy both the style the Ranking Member and I have in governance, but more importantly, hoe important these issues are to this nation.
Every one of them are important to our national security, to our well-being, the well-being of of it go’s from everything from hard power with weapons to soft power with global health, to PEPFAR reauthorization which we heard the President talk about last night.
We got a standing ovation, Republican and Democrat.
The great things we do, helping other nations is the best diplomacy that we can send to then use our diplomatic soft power to win the hearts and minds of people around the world against our adversaries who have a very different world view than we do.
And that’s one of oppression, tyranny, taking away religious freedoms, and persecution.”