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- As Delivered -

WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following remarks in opposition to the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay Preservation Act (H.R.4678) at the full Committee markup:

“Thank you for all your courtesies as usual.  But I must respectfully oppose this measure today, the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay Preservation Act.  And the reason is, in my view, the legislation simply isn’t necessary.

“The Guantanamo detention facility is always a political hot button.  But I don’t think anyone disputes that our naval station at Guantanamo Bay serves a number of worthy, national security purposes.  And for example, after the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010, the base was a critical logistical hub for our response.

“And so I asked if the President—if the Administration—had any plans to return the naval station to the Cuban government.  I received a response this week from the State Department that reads, and I quote: ‘The Administration has no plans to alter the existing lease treaty, payments, and other arrangements with Cuba related to the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station.’

“The President, the Chairman, didn’t point out that we got this letter from Julia Friefield who’s the Assistant Secretary of Legislative Affairs of the United States Department of State.  So I would ask unanimous consent that her letter appear in the record. [Chairman Royce: ‘Without objection.’] Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

“The letter goes on to explain that the base will continue to serve an important role for the United States, even after the detention facility closes, including support of quote ‘U.S. Coast Guard and other agency counter drug and migrant interdiction activities’ unquote.

“So, let me say that this bill won’t become law.  Obviously, the President is opposed to it. But I do think that again we should continue to work together on this issue of Guantanamo because it does serve a number of key national security purposes and will continue to do so in the years ahead.  So thank you, Mr. Chairman.  I yield back.”