Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Eliot L. Engel, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, delivered the below remarks as prepared for delivery at today’s full committee markup of H.R. 1409, H.R. 1926, H.R. 2449 and S. 793.
The statement follows:
Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this markup and for advancing these important pieces of legislation.
First, Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to be the lead Democratic cosponsor of H.R. 2449, your bill to extend the current U.S.-South Korea civil nuclear cooperation agreement until 2016.
This legislation will provide two additional years for our two nations to complete negotiations on extending the existing agreement, which is set to expire early next year.
This will prevent an interruption in our peaceful nuclear cooperation, which would have a negative impact on our bilateral relationship and on U.S. businesses.
This legislation enjoys strong bipartisan support, and I urge my colleagues to support the measure.
I also urge my colleagues to support H.R. 1409, the Export Promotion Reform Act. This bill, which I authored, is based on recommendations from the GAO and numerous outside groups.
It would benefit many of the nation’s 293,000 exporting firms – including more than 40,000 firms in my home State of New York -- more than 97% of which are small- and medium-sized businesses. And by enhancing export opportunities, it would lead to the creation of new jobs here in the United States.
Specifically, H.R. 1409 would make three key changes:
First, it would require the Secretary of Commerce to identify the best opportunities for increased U.S. exports and then re-deploy U.S. Commercial Service personnel to help our exporters find customers, deal with foreign Customs and other trade rules, and act as advocates with foreign governments.
Second, it would strengthen the authority of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee to review annual export promotion budget submissions and coordinate the export promotion activities across the government.
And third, it would require our ambassadors to develop commercial diplomacy plans aimed at increasing U.S. exports.
I’d like to thank Chairman Royce, along with Subcommittee Chairman Poe and Ranking Member Sherman for their work in moving H.R. 1409 forward.
H.R. 1926, introduced by our colleague Steve Chabot, the Chairman of the Asia Subcommittee, would strengthen the coordination between state trade development agencies and the federal government.
This legislation is complementary to my export promotion bill, and I look forward to working with Rep. Chabot as our two measures move through the House and Senate.
Finally, I’d like to say a few words about S.793, introduced by Senator Bob Menendez, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The OAS remains the premier regional forum for the countries of the Americas to conduct multilateral business.
The bill before us today seeks to support the organization, in particular with respect to democracy promotion and protection of human rights.
I would like to thank Chairman Royce for working with me to strengthen the bill. Our amendment would require the State Department to examine ways to ensure that no OAS member state pays more than 50% of the regular budget.
I believe a modernized OAS would benefit from a more egalitarian fee structure. This amendment asks State to lay out a roadmap to achieve it, and hopefully opens up that conversation with our fellow member states in the OAS in the spirit of consensus and partnership.
Again, thank you to Chairman Royce for working in a truly bipartisan manner on this bill and on the markup as a whole.