WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today delivered the following remarks during the committee’s consideration of five bipartisan measures:
“Thank you very much Mr. Chairman. Thank you for calling this morning’s markup. I am also pleased to support this entire slate of good bipartisan measures.
“I hope at our next markup, we can get to marking up the bill I introduced with Mr. Connolly, the SECURE Our Democracy Act. The bill represents a tough response to Russia’s interference in last year‘s election. And it would send a clear message that if you meddle in American democracy, there are going to be consequences.
“It’s a common-sense bill, and we were moving in a positive direction to make it a bipartisan measure. So I hope the next time we have this markup, the bill will have bipartisan support and we will be able to advance the bill.
“With respect to the measures before us today, the Committee is taking quick action to respond to two troubling events in recent days.
“The first, as you mentioned Mr. Chairman, is a resolution condemning the barbaric attack that ripped through an arena in Manchester, England earlier this week.
“Mr. Chairman, the horrific evil deliberately targets innocent children. Many of us have sons or daughters, and we certainly know the happiness and community we feel going to concerts with friends and family when we were younger, and that our children feel the same way today.
“This attack reminds us of the threat violent extremism poses, the sort of indiscriminate carnage terrorists are willing to inflict. And in the wake of this tragedy, we stand with our British partners and friends in mourning and recovery as we work together to meet this shared challenge.
“This was not just an attack on the U.K. It was an attack on civilization. I’m pleased to support this measure, which sends this important message.
“Secondly, I’m sure we’ve all seen video of what happened last week at a protest of Turkish President Erdogan’s visit. I was shocked. The last thing we expect to see in the United States is a strongman’s thugs silencing peaceful protestors.
“I had been invited, actually, to go to that meeting at the Turkish Embassy. I didn’t go. And I’m glad I didn’t go because I was just horrified when I heard what happened.
“Turkey is a NATO ally and a key partner on many issues. But what happened last week is unacceptable. This resolution calls for those responsible to face justice.
“This is a much bigger issue. We’ve seen a troubling pattern from Turkey in recent years. But if Turkish government officials come to our country and try to stifle American democracy and freedom of speech, there must be consequences.
“I’m also pleased to support the Women, Peace, and Security Act, offered by Representatives Schakowsky and Noem.
“This bill has its roots in the Obama Administration’s 2011 Executive Order on Women, Peace, and Security. This order took into account the fact that a range of global issues are better addressed when women are involved: conflict prevention, crisis resolution, peace-building. Research has shown again and again and again that when women are at the center of these processes, the outcomes are better.
“So a few years ago, President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton took steps to ensure our foreign policy focused on getting more women involved when it came to resolving these challenges. Since then, we’ve seen good results, and we want to make those results permanent.
“This bill, which we advanced last Congress, would put into law parts of the Executive Order and work to build even more on these earlier successes. I’m pleased to cosponsor this bill, and I hope this time around, we’re able to get it across the finish line.
“I ask unanimous consent to enter co-author of this legislation Representative Jan Schakowsky of Illinois’s statement into the record.”
“Thank you Mr. Chairman.
“I’m also a proud cosponsor of a resolution condemning the unlawful detention, torture, and murder of gay men in Chechnya.
“Hundreds of gay men have been rounded up by local Chechen authorities, some killed and some tortured because of their sexual orientation. Chechen authorities deny this and the Kremlin looks the other way. But the truth has found its way into the light, and now is the time for people around the world to speak out against these abuses. President Putin must end these abuses. He must respect and promote the dignity of all persons and provide safe haven for all those fleeing such horrific persecution.
“I want to thank Representatives Ros-Lehtinen and Cicilline for their hard work on this measure.
“And lastly, I’m glad we’re advancing a bill to make a number of minor technical corrections to our State Department authorization legislation that President Obama signed into law last year.
“During the last Congress, for the first time since 2002, this committee worked together in a bipartisan manner to get a State Department authorization bill to the President's desk. I was very pleased with it. The Chairman worked very hard on it, and so did I, and so did members of this committee.
“Our legislation helped to modernize the department and provide our diplomats with the tools and resources they need to do their jobs. Diplomats are at the front line of American foreign policy, and their efforts are needed now more than ever.
“So I want to thank all our members for their hard work on these measures. And again, Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this markup. I yield back.”