WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today delivered the following remarks on the House floor in support of the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act:
“Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this measure and I yield myself as much time as I may consume.
“Let me first thank our Chairman on the Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce, who’s done great work to get this bill to the finish line. I want to especially thank my dear friend and colleague Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who was so instrumental in crafting this bill and then getting it passed. Like so many of the things she’s done for so many years on the Foreign Affairs Committee, it has just been an honor and a pleasure to work with her, and I’m going to miss her. But, she has done some great work and people’s lives will be saved because of the work that Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has done, so I’m going to thank you.
“I’m also grateful to the members of the other body who have helped push this measure forward. This bill is the product of a good bipartisan effort aimed at a clear goal: to isolate Hezbollah, one of the world’s most dangerous terrorist organizations.
“With hundreds of thousands of rockets pointed at Israel and fighters returning home battle-hardened from years fighting alongside the Assad regime in Syria, Hezbollah has become more sophisticated and more lethal. Hezbollah—with support from Iran—has served as a lifeline to Assad, allowing his regime to butcher the Syrian people. Without Hezbollah’s support, Assad would have been swept out of power years ago. When he was losing, Hezbollah came in. Iran unleashed Hezbollah, and they turned the tide in the war.
“Birds of a feather flock together, unfortunately, and Hezbollah has also gained from this relationship.
“The war in Syria bound Hezbollah and Russia together. The result: deeper coordination and training between the two.
“Russia talks a good game about fighting terrorism. But its partnership with Hezbollah has shown that Moscow is eager to collaborate with a group that has American blood on its hands.
“Now is the time to choke Hezbollah off from its patrons. This bill would give the Administration every tool it needs to confront this dangerous group.
“With this measure, we build on a 2015 law by imposing sanctions on anyone who knowingly supports Hezbollah’s fundraising and recruitment efforts.
“As terrorist groups, including Hezbollah, rely more and more on online crowd sourcing and social media to spread their message, we need to be one step ahead.
“This legislation – bipartisan - also imposes sanctions on any part of a foreign government that supplies material support or arms to Hezbollah. That could include Russia and Iran for the training and assistance they provide to Hezbollah in Syria.
“This measure would also ramp up oversight on the Administration’s strategies when it comes to diplomatic engagement to shut off Hezbollah’s networks and safe havens.
“This legislation is meant to signal to anyone who supports Hezbollah: your time is up.
“And let me add a final note about Hezbollah as it concerns Lebanon. I have been a friend of Lebanon for many years. Back in 2003, I wrote the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act with my friend, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. We pressed Syria to get out of Lebanon and allow Lebanon to secure its own independence—free from Syria’s outside influence. Unfortunately, Hezbollah has so far endured as a fact of life in Lebanese politics. The Lebanese people deserve better. Hezbollah should stop holding the Lebanese people hostage to its radical agenda.
“So, I urge my colleagues to support this legislation, and I reserve the balance of my time.”
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