Washington, D.C. – Rep. Eliot L. Engel, the senior Democratic member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, delivered the below remarks, as prepared for delivery, at today’s full committee markup of H.R. 4278, H.Res. 418, and H.Res 494.
The following remarks were given on H.R. 4278:
“Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for holding this markup of the Ukraine Support Act. I am very pleased to be the lead Democratic cosponsor of this legislation, and I want to commend you for once again working with us in a bipartisan way.
“President Putin’s invasion of Crimea is a blatant violation of international law and Russia’s commitments to its neighbor. The phony referendum he organized at the barrel of a gun has culminated in the first outright annexation of territory in Europe since the end of World War II. And now he is massing troops on Ukraine’s border, greatly increasing the risk of further violence and conflict in Ukraine and the wider region. The United States must take a stand against this naked aggression.
“H. R. 4278 reaffirms our strong support for the people of Ukraine at this difficult time. It authorizes assistance for the country as it seeks to regain its economic footing and prepares for democratic elections. It supports efforts to help Ukraine recover looted assets and professionalize its law enforcement. And it requires additional broadcasting to Ukraine and other countries in the region to counter the outrageous propaganda generated in Moscow, while endorsing the deployment of international monitors throughout Ukraine.
“The legislation also supplements the President's efforts to impose sanctions on those responsible for violating Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, looting Ukraine's economy, and violating human rights in Ukraine. It sends a clear message to Putin and his cronies that Russia’s reckless actions will have serious consequences. On that note, I’d like to commend President Obama for imposing sanctions that have already started to impact Russia’s economy and for leading the effort to suspend Russia’s participation in the G-8.
“Finally, the bill expresses support for continuing U.S. security assistance to Ukraine and reaffirms our commitment to the security of our NATO partners in Eastern and Central Europe.
“Mr. Chairman, the House recently passed legislation to provide $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine, and the European Union has pledged $15 billion in assistance. But the most significant element of the international community’s assistance to Ukraine will be provided by the International Monetary Fund. The IMF is now the most important international body for emergency rescue of countries facing serious economic difficulties. But the future of the IMF and our influence within that organization requires that Congress pass legislation to put into effect the 2010 plan to slightly adjust the voting shares on the IMF board and activate the IMF reserve account known as the New Arrangements to Borrow. The IMF is not in our committee’s jurisdiction, but it is clearly in the interest of the United States that Congress act as soon as possible to maintain the IMF’s critical role in international crises.
“Mr. Chairman, thank you again for holding this markup. By passing this bill, we are making clear to the people of Ukraine that the United States is with them and that we are committed to helping them build a more democratic, prosperous, secure, and just Ukraine.
“I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation.”
The following remarks were given on H.Res. 418 and H.Res. 494:
“Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for marking up these two bipartisan resolutions.
“First, I strongly support H. Res. 418, a resolution introduced by Mr. McGovern, the Co-Chairman of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. This legislation calls on the Government of Burma to end the persecution of the Rohingya people and to respect the human rights of all minority groups in Burma.
“The plight of the Rohingya gets very little attention, and I’m pleased that the Committee is addressing the abuses they and other minorities have suffered in Burma.
“According to the State Department’s 2013 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, there were “credible reports of extrajudicial killings, rape and sexual violence, arbitrary detentions and torture and mistreatment in detention, deaths in custody, and systematic denial of due process and fair trial rights, overwhelmingly perpetrated against the Rohingya”.
“As the Government of Burma transitions from decades-long military rule to a civilian government, it is important to hold them accountable for persistent human rights abuses. The killings, arbitrary detentions and destruction of their homes have caused 140,000 to be internally displaced and hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee to neighboring countries including Thailand, Bangladesh and Malaysia.
“If Burma truly seeks to rejoin the international community, then it must abide by the human rights principles of equality and human dignity. I support this resolution and encourage my colleagues to support it as well.
“Mr. Chairman, I commend you for introducing H. Res. 494, a resolution that reaffirms the importance and relevance of the Taiwan Relations Act, and I’m very pleased to be the lead Democratic cosponsor.
“Next month marks the 35th anniversary of the adoption of the TRA, the cornerstone of the U.S.-Taiwan relationship. The Act has been instrumental in maintaining peace and security across the Taiwan Straits and in East Asia, and serves as the official basis for friendship and cooperation between the United States and Taiwan.
“Taiwan is a flourishing multiparty democracy of over 20 million people with a vibrant free market economy. Its impressive evolution from authoritarianism to one of the strongest democratic systems in Asia has transformed the U.S.-Taiwan relationship from one based solely on shared interests to one based on shared values.
“For many years, I have been a staunch supporter of the people of Taiwan, have visited many times, and I will continue to lead efforts in Congress to demonstrate America’s support for Taiwan.
“Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you again for holding this markup, and for working with us in a bipartisan way to move these important resolutions forward"