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- As Delivered - 


WASHINGTON, DC—Representative Eliot L. Engel, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today delivered the following remarks in the House of Representatives in support of the Global Anti-Poaching Act (H.R.2494):


“Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this measure and I yield myself as much time as I may consume.


“I want to, first of all, thank my friend, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce, for authoring the Global Anti-Poaching Act.  I’m very proud to be an original cosponsor.  And this bill again is a good example of our committee working across the aisle to get real results.


“On average, one elephant is killed every 20 minutes.  That’s just a shocking statistic.  So in the 40 minutes we have to debate this bill, two elephants will be killed.  Last year, the toll was 20,000.  It’s just disgusting.


“And make no mistake, these animals aren’t being killed for sport.  No matter how you feel about big-game hunting, the real reason elephants and other iconic animals are being wiped out is far more sinister.  And it’s why this issue deserves the attention of Congress and the Administration.


“Those responsible for poaching are profiting from their crimes by selling ivory or rhinoceros horns or cheetah pelts. 


“Where do these profits go?


“These profits go to buy weapons for violent armed militias.  To bribe government officials and law enforcement.  To fuel criminal networks.  In short, poaching pumps resources into groups that threaten security and stability.  Groups that want to do harm to innocent people and want to do harm to the United States of America.


“That’s why Chairman Royce and I view wildlife trafficking as a security issue.  And that’s why we introduced the Global Anti-Poaching Act.


“Our bill would bring wildlife trafficking under money-laundering and racketeering statutes that are already part of our law.  It would support the professionalization of wildlife law-enforcement units on the ground and allow us to provide them non-lethal assistance.  It would strengthen regional Wildlife Enforcement Networks designed to combat poaching.  And it would name and shame governments that aren’t taking this problem seriously.


“Mr. Speaker, I would also like to highlight the excellent work of the Wildlife Conservation Society from my hometown, Bronx, New York.  The Wildlife Conservation Society runs the Bronx Zoo and runs many other cultural institutions in New York City.  But they have been actively fighting wildlife poaching and trafficking for many years. They have been at the forefront of the American fight against poaching and trafficking, and it’s a pleasure to work with them on this and so many other issues.  I, of course, have longstanding ties with one of their leaders, John Calvelli, who used to be my chief of staff in Washington, ran my Washington office.  And so I know how dedicated this group is. 


“So we need to crack down on wildlife trafficking, both to deny resources to dangerous organizations, and to protect some of the world’s most iconic creatures.


“Now people may feel: ‘Well, you know, if I just buy a little ivory doll or I buy something made out of ivory, how can that hurt?  After all, it’s there.  It may be cute.  It may be trendy.  What’s wrong with it?’


“I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it.  It funnels and aids and abets terrorism.  Because these groups that sell the tusks and sell the ivory, they are by and large groups that get the money back and use it to foster terror.


“So people who are buying these things are not buying some innocent things.  They are buying things that help terrorist organizations.  Just like we have the fight with the artifacts that are coming in from Syria that ISIS takes and loots and then sells abroad to help finance their terrorist activities.  The same thing is true for ivory and the same thing, the same reasons are being used, are being done to funnel this money towards helping sinister groups, many of whom are terrorist organizations.


“So I urge my colleagues to support this bill.  This is a very important bill.  I thank my friend and partner Chairman Royce.  And I reserve the balance of my time.”