“Mr. Chairman, thank you for calling this markup. This markup today is indicative of what you and I have both tried to do along with members of this committee on both sides of the aisle. That’s working in an unpartisan way to pass legislation that is important to the American people. So I thank you again for being a good partner in that effort. The chairman sets the tone and you’ve certainly set the right one.
“We have nine good measures before us today, and I want to thank our members for all their hard work.
“I’ll start by voicing my support for three different measures addressing the ongoing challenge of North Korea. They send a clear message that we need a careful and comprehensive strategy aimed at building peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.
“I’m glad to be an original cosponsor of the Chairman’s measure, the Korean Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act. This bill updates the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act. It seeks to build on the UN Security Council’s efforts to cut off sources of hard currency to the Kim regime and the North Korean nuclear program.
“I have had the occasion to travel to North Korea twice, including once with our colleague and friend Joe Wilson. And, if you—when you go there you, it’s like stepping backwards into a time warp. It’s just absolutely amazing and interesting.
“I also welcome the bill offered by Chairman Poe and Ranking Member Sherman to ask the State Department to take another look at North Korea to determine whether or not they should be designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.
“And Mr. Wilson’s resolution condemns North Korea’s development of intercontinental ballistic missiles; reaffirms America’s commitment to our allies, the Republic of Korea and Japan; calls upon China to use its influence to bring the North Korean regime back to credible negotiations; and encourages a comprehensive diplomatic effort to see that existing sanctions against North Korea are fully enforced.
“Democratic and Republican administrations alike have struggled with this challenge, but we cannot give up. In my view, we need sustained high-level attention and relentless diplomatic engagement, and these three measures support that approach.
“I’ll turn now to the resolution reaffirming the partnership between the United States and Argentina, offered by Mr. Sires and Mr. Duncan.
“I’ve long advocated exploring the untapped potential of the U.S.-Argentina relationship, and since the election of Mauricio Macri in late 2015, we’ve made good progress. At the Chairman’s and my urging, President Obama quickly ramped up engagement with the Macri Administration, including a visit to Buenos Aires last year.
“President Macri will visit Washington next month. I look forward to welcoming him, and I’m glad to support this measure which signals our commitment to this relationship.
“Next, I’m glad to support Mr. Cicilline’s resolution honoring the life of Shimon Peres.
“In a lifetime, you just don’t meet that many people about whom you can say, “This person helped shape a country—helped build a new democracy from the ground up.” That was true of Shimon Peres. He was a giant of Jewish history. He is a giant of history. He was a champion of Israel and the people of Israel. And he was a visionary for peace and progress. I attended his funeral in Israel several months ago. It’s a vision we need to keep alive, and this measure will help to do so.
“Moving on, I want to thank Congresswoman Torres for her work on Central America and for offering her resolution supporting the fight against corruption there.
“A big part of our work in recent years to get to the root cause of child migration from Central America has been supporting key figures across the region, particularly, the Attorneys General in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras; and the heads of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala and the Mission to Support the Fight against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras. This resolution underscores how important it is to maintain that support and signals that the United States stands with those who are committed to ending corruption in those countries.
“I’m also glad to support Ranking Member Bass’s resolution, emphasizing the need for continued action to deal with the famine in South Sudan.
“For more than three years of conflict, the Government of South Sudan and the armed opposition have stood in the way of humanitarian assistance, leading to the man-made famine we see today. Without the United States and our partners, this situation would frankly be a lot worse, another reminder of what good a strong foreign affairs budget can do. Still, nearly five million people are in desperate need of food assistance, and without intervention, that number will rise by another half million.
“This measure calls for continued strong support to help alleviate this crisis, and I thank Representative Bass for her leadership.
“Next, let me thank Chairman Smith for his bill aimed at providing support for minority groups victimized by ISIS.
“The United States cannot stand by while genocide is perpetrated against Christians, Yazidis, or any other minority group. Congress said as much last year, as did the Obama State Department, and this bill follows up on those efforts. And, I was glad to join Chairman Royce to reintroduce the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act last week to press for an end to that conflict.
“Lastly, I’m proud to cosponsor a bill introduced by my friend from New York, Nita Lowey, the Combating European Anti-Semitism Act.
“We’ve seen an alarming resurgence of this ancient hatred, both overseas and here at home, and we need to respond forcefully. This measure calls for continued and enhanced reporting on anti-Semitic incidents in Europe. It also makes clear why it’s so important for the United States, other countries, and multilateral bodies to confront this problem—including ensuring the safety of European Jewish communities.
“Before I conclude, Mr. Chairman, I’d like to reiterate my hope that this Committee will soon take up two additional pieces of legislation dealing with Russia’s criminal interference in last year’s election.
“The Protecting Our Democracy Act would establish an independent commission to investigate this issue. Our country was attacked, our democracy is under threat, and too many questions remain unanswered about contacts between the President’s campaign and Russian officials.
“I believe the issue is too important to let it get swallowed up by partisan politics. So let’s get it out of Congress completely, and turn this issue over to a nonpartisan body, just like we did after the 9/11 attacks. The bill to do that is in our Committee’s jurisdiction, and I hope we can act on it in the not too distant future.
“I’d also encourage the Committee in the future to mark up the SECURE Our Democracy Act, which I introduced with Mr. Connolly. This bill, nonpartisan on its face, would punish those responsible for interfering in our election from overseas, and send a strong warning to anyone thinking of doing so in the future.
“With that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back. And I think we have good measures on this markup today.”