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 in support of the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015 (HR 2297):
“Thank you, Madam Speaker. I’d like to begin by once again thanking Chairman Royce for his thoughtfulness, his intellect, his bipartisanship. I agree with everything he said in his opening statement. I want to also thank Representative Deutch, Representative Meadows, and Representative Meng for their hard work on this important legislation to sanction Hezbollah, Iran’s terrorist proxy.
“Over a decade ago, I introduced and Congress passed into law the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act, which was designed to end Syrian support for terrorism, including Hezbollah. I was proud to have that bill pass both houses of Congress and signed into law by then-President Bush. Now, Hezbollah is a more sophisticated terrorist organization, but their goals remain the same: they continue to support Iran’s dangerous agenda throughout the region.
“They have tipped the Syrian civil war in favor of Assad. Assad would most likely be losing or out of power by now if not for the fact that Hezbollah has come in from Lebanon into Syria to aid Assad in his murderous treachery against his own people, where hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians have perished. He would not be in power today if it wasn’t for Iran, and if it wasn’t for Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah, fighting that war, that civil war. He’d be losing that civil war. It’s Hezbollah that has propped him up and caused him to be ahead in that war.
“When we debated the Corker-Cardin just before, I mentioned my concerns about a potential nuclear deal with Iran. At the top of their list is how sanctions relief will be handled and what Iran will do with a new influx of resources.
“Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. The Revolutionary Guard Corps and its Quds Force sow instability throughout the region.
“Perhaps the most destructive has been Iran’s support for Hezbollah. Hezbollah again has prevented the people of Lebanon from building a better future. Hezbollah’s support has allowed the Assad regime to cling to power. And Hezbollah has stockpiled tens of thousands of rockets on Israel’s front doorstep.
“What concerns me most is that Iran has been able to funnel resources to Hezbollah despite the burden of the most crippling sanctions regime in history. What’s going to happen if that pressure is lifted?
“Well, we shouldn’t wait to find out.
“Congress must act now to impose stronger sanctions on Hezbollah. We should choke them off from their Iranian patrons.
“This bill would give the Administration every tool it needs to confront this dangerous group.
“It would sanction foreign banks for knowingly doing business with Hezbollah. We need to send a clear message to companies getting tangled up with this terrorist group: walk away—walk away, or face the consequences.
“The bill would also shine a bright light on al-Manar, Hezbollah’s television station, itself a Specially Designated Terrorist Group. Hezbollah uses al-Manar for logistical, propaganda, and fundraising purposes. It defies reason that this station is still carried by the satellite providers all over the world. We need to expose this puppet organization and this dangerous organization for what it is.
“We passed this bill in the last Congress by a vote of 404 to zero. Today, let’s take another stand against the violence, murder, and terrorism that Hezbollah sows in the region. It’s time for an independent and free Lebanon. It’s time for an end to terror, and for a transition in Syria. And it’s time for the threats against Israel to end.
“I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation, and I reserve the balance of my time.”