– As Delivered –
WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following remarks on the House floor in support of the Taylor Force Act (H.R.1164):
“Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this bill—in strong support of this bill—and I yield myself as much time as I may consume.
“I’d first like to thank Ed Royce, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. I agree with everything he said in his remarks. I want to thank him for his hard work on this legislation.
“We worked closely together to make this bipartisan bill as strong as possible while also taking care to limit any unintended consequences. That’s what we’ve been doing on the Foreign Affairs Committee, and that’s why we’ve been so successful in passing legislation. We do it in a bipartisan way.
“Let me begin by saying that the Palestinian system of so-called ‘martyr payments’ is downright disgusting. We’re talking about a system that it involves paying people, on a sliding scale, based on the death and destruction that they cause. It’s simply sickening.
“These payments clearly incentivize terrorist attacks. And they further threaten prospects for peace, pushing the chance for a Palestinian state further and further out of reach.
“This legislation was named for Taylor Force, an American victim of Palestinian terrorism. He was a West Point graduate, and a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was stabbed to death in Jaffa in 2016.
“The question we face is: how do we compel the PA—the Palestinian Authority—to end the ‘martyr payments’ system? In 2015, appropriations bills began to include language cutting off funds for the Palestinian Authority by the amount that they spent on so-called ‘martyr payments.’ But that didn’t curb the practice. We stopped giving the Palestinian Authority direct assistance, but the Palestinian Authority hasn’t budged.
“Now, we are considering this legislation, which cuts all funds that directly benefit the Palestinian Authority if the Palestinian Authority continues to make these payments. This will make it crystally clear to the Palestinian Authority that ‘martyr payments’—so-called ‘martyr payments’—are unacceptable. Period.
“At the same time, the bill allows the United States to continue humanitarian and democracy assistance, which is in our interest and the interest of our ally, Israel.
“It also includes a thoughtful exemption proposed by the gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Connolly, which exempts childhood vaccinations from the cuts required under this bill. And overall, I believe that this version of the Taylor Force Act strikes the right balance.
“Chairman Royce and I worked very hard to come up with a piece of legislation that both sides would support. The Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously passed this legislation, so the message should be clear: this is not a partisan issue. We must send a message to the Palestinian Authority that these so-called ‘martyr payments,’ which are killing payments, must stop.
“Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this legislation that ensures no unintended consequences and reserve the balance of my time.”
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