WASHINGTON, DC—Representative Eliot L. Engel, the leading Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today delivered the following remarks at a full Committee markup of the Emergency Iron Dome Replenishment Act (H.R. 5235), the Girls Count Act (H.R. 3398), the Naftali Fraenkel Rewards for Justice Act (H.R. 5041), a resolution expressing concern over reports of state-sanctioned organ harvesting in China (H.Res. 281), and a resolution underscoring the urgent needs of religious minorities in Iraq (H.Res. 663):
“Chairman, thank you for holding this important markup. Thank you for the bipartisan collaboration you’ve brought to all of these measures, and for working with me on what I consider a vital measure, the Emergency Iron Dome Replenishment Act.
“Since early June, Hamas and other terrorist groups have launched thousands of rockets against Israeli civilian population centers, as well as Ben Gurion Airport and the Israeli nuclear reactor at Dimona. In this time, the Iron Dome Anti-Missile Defense System has intercepted 492 rockets. At $82,000 per interception, Israel has spent more than 40 million in six weeks. The Iron Dome is Israeli-developed, but American-financed, and our financing is vital to the safety of the people in Israel.
“The Secretary of Defense recently requested 225 million in supplemental funding for Iron Dome. The Senate Appropriations Committee has introduced legislation that fully funds this request. It is time for the House to do the same. I hope that this authorization language puts us on the path to meeting Israel’s needs when Israel needs us most.
“I support the Royce amendment to this legislation. This provision focuses on a replenishment strategy for all of Israel’s missile threats, whether they be from Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, or Iran. The amendment also adheres to the recent agreement between the United States and Israel to begin coproduction of Iron Dome interceptors and other components.
“I once again thank you, Mr. Chairman, for working with me on this legislation and urge my colleagues to support it.
“Let me next thank Representative Chabot for introducing the Girls Count Act.
“Around the world, over a third of children under the age of five have no registration of their birth. You know, it’s interesting because I remember my grandmother who was born in Europe telling me that she didn’t have a birth certificate, and when I asked her when her birthday was, she wasn’t quite sure—she said she thought it was “sometime in December.”
“So most of these children are girls. Someone who doesn’t exist on paper faces particular vulnerabilities. They often can’t get official documentation, and they become easy targets for child labor, human trafficking, and child marriage.
“H.R. 3398 will ramp up efforts to get more children registered. It authorizes the State Department and USAID to work with local governments to ensure equal access to registration programs. Getting children registered at birth helps get them off to a good start, and I urge my colleagues to support this bill.
“I also support H.R. 5041, the Naftali Fraenkel Rewards for Justice Act. Naftali Fraenkel was an Israeli-American teenager who loved basketball, music, and ping-pong. He was on his way home from school when two Hamas terrorists kidnapped and murdered him and two other Israeli teenagers.
“The Israeli Defense Forces, partnering with the Palestinian Security Forces, searched for the teenagers for weeks in Operation Brother’s Keeper. Israeli authorities named two suspects. Both belong to Hamas.
“We must use every tool we have find Naftali’s murderer. To this end, this bill would authorize the Secretary of State to offer and pay a reward to anyone who furnishes information leading to the arrest or conviction of an individual for their role in Naftali’s kidnapping or murder. Again, Naftali was an American citizen, so we have extra special reason to be concerned about this. I’d like to commend Representatives Lamborn, Sherman, and McCaul for their work on this important issue.
“I also support H.Res. 281, introduced by my friend Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and the Royce amendment to that resolution. This measure shines a light on disturbing allegations that China has engaged in organ harvesting from prisoners, including Falun Gong practitioners and ethnic Uighurs.
“Forced organ harvesting is an unconscionable violation of human rights. The targeting of individuals based on their faith or ethnicity is equally deplorable and must not be tolerated.
“In 2012, Chinese authorities committed to ending the practice of transplanting organs from executed prisoners. Last year, the government announced plans to create a voluntary organ donor system. But today, we have no evidence that China is living up to its word on either count.
“I hope the State Department will continue its good work of reporting on human rights practices in China, including allegations of organ harvesting from political prisoners.
“And finally, I would like to thank Representative Juan Vargas for introducing H.Res. 663, expressing the urgent need to protect religious minorities in Iraq from persecution by ISIS.
“Last month, the leadership of ISIS announced that the Christians of Mosul—Iraq’s second-largest city and one of the world’s oldest Christian communities—must convert to Islam, pay a “protection tax,” leave, or face execution. Understandably, most of Mosul’s 35,000 Christians are fleeing to territory controlled by the Kurds.
“People of all faiths should be alarmed by the situation in Iraq. This measure reiterates our commitment to the protection of religious freedom and calls on the State Department to work with the international community to help find safe havens for those trying to escape ISIS. It also calls on Iraq to establish a Special Representative for Religious Minorities. As thousands suffer under the brutality of ISIS, we need to look for ways to protect the basic rights and dignity all Iraqis.
“So, Mr. Chairman, thank you again for holding this markup and for working with us in a bipartisan manner.”
H.R.5235 - To authorize further assistance to Israel for the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system.
H.R.3398 - Girls Count Act of 2013
H.R.5041 - To require the Secretary of State to offer rewards totaling up to $5,000,000 for information on the kidnapping and murder of Naftali Fraenkel, a dual United States-Israeli citizen, that began on June 12, 2014
H.Res.281 - Expressing concern over persistent and credible reports of systematic, state-sanctioned organ harvesting from non-consenting prisoners of conscience, in the People's Republic of China, including from large numbers of Falun Gong practitioners imprisoned for their religious beliefs, and members of other religious and ethnic minority groups.