WASHINGTON, DC— Representative Eliot L. Engel, the leading Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today delivered the following remarks on the floor of the House of Representatives regarding sanctions on the terrorist organization, Hezbollah.
“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Let me just say before I begin that once again the Foreign Affairs Committee is acting in a bipartisan way by speaking with one voice to say no to terrorism and I want to thank Chairman Royce for the bipartisan way that he’s conducted this committee. We believe that foreign policy is best when it is bipartisan and there is no difference here between members—we all condemn terrorist organizations like Hezbollah.
“So, I rise in strong support of H.R. 4411, the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act. This legislation will greatly enhance our ability to confront Hezbollah as they continue to sow terror around the globe.
“As the Chairman pointed out, Hezbollah is a terrorist organization, just like its cousin Hamas, and terrorism must be confronted whenever it raises its ugly head—be it in Israel, be it here in the United States of America—everywhere around the globe we must confront terrorism and speak with one voice and say that we will not accept it ever.
“Ten years ago, I wrote the Syria Accountability Act, which Congress passed and was signed into law by President Bush.
“At that time, Syria was already working closely with Iran to strengthen Hezbollah by facilitating the shipment of thousands of Iranian rockets and missiles to the group.
“A decade later, Hezbollah has become a more sophisticated terrorist organization. But their goal remains the same: supporting Iran’s nefarious agenda throughout the region.
“Once dependent on Assad in Syria, Hezbollah is now returning the favor. Hezbollah’s intervention in the Syrian civil war on the side of Assad has provided a new lease on life to the Assad regime. In fact, it’s the reason why Assad believes he is winning this war and can continue to kill his own people and continue to use starvation as an act of war, and continue to do horrific things to hundreds of thousands of its citizens.
“Hezbollah has also had a corrosive effect on Lebanese politics, holding the Lebanese people hostage to its demand that the country accept its illegal armed forces – a terrorist army which is perpetually at war with Lebanon’s southern neighbor, Israel.
“Mr. Speaker, claims that Hezbollah is just a political organization or some kind of a social services agency are simply naïve, untrue, just plain lies. This bill exposes the group for what it is: a vicious terrorist organization with a global reach, including an operational capacity in the United States.
“The United States is responding to this threat, and last week the Treasury Department sanctioned companies for procuring engines, communications, electronics and navigation equipment for Hezbollah.
“It’s time to impose even stronger sanctions on Hezbollah. It’s time to focus on their evolving efforts to raise money all over the world, whether through kidnapping and ransom, conflict diamonds, narco-trafficking and other criminal enterprises.
“This bill would sanction foreign banks for knowingly facilitating transactions with Hezbollah and would designate Hezbollah as a narcotics trafficking organization.
“You know, we are currently in negotiations with Iran. Iran didn’t come to the table because they’re good government or nice people, they came to the table because our sanctions, passed by Congress, is crippling their economy. We must do the same thing and cripple Hezbollah.
“This bill shines a bright light on al-Manar, Hezbollah’s television station, which is itself a Specially Designated Terrorist Group.
“Hezbollah uses al-Manar for logistical, propaganda and fundraising purposes. It’s shocking that this station is still carried by the satellite providers all over the world. It’s just an outrage.
“By passing this legislation, Congress is seeking to give the Administration every tool it needs to confront Hezbollah in this dangerous world.
“I want to thank Representative Meadows for the extraordinary work he’s put into this legislation. I want to thank Representative Schneider for also doing Yeoman’s work making sure this legislation is here and again it is another example of the bipartisan cooperation we have on the Foreign Affairs Committee so that this Congress will speak with one voice and say that we will never accept the scourge of terrorism, be it Hezbollah or be it Hamas.
“Mr. Meadows and Mr. Schneider have made sure that this is a responsible and targeted bill, focused on cutting off Hezbollah’s financial lifeline without unintended consequences.
“So Mr. Speaker, let me say as Hezbollah doubles down to defend the Assad regime and expands its political presence in Europe and elsewhere, now is the time for us to ramp up our efforts to disrupt its global logistics and financial network.
“And let me say, it is a disgrace that the European Union, while designating Hezbollah’s armed wing as a terrorist organization, tries to separate it from its social services wing and pretend that, somehow, Hezbollah’s social services aren’t a terrorist organization. They are a terrorist organization and that is an umbrella group and it confronts everything and they must be boycotted and we are doing that today.
“So I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation, and I reserve the balance of my time.”
Watch Mr. Engel's floor remarks here: