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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 on the North Korea State Sponsor of Terrorism Designation Act of 2016 (H.R.5208), the State Sponsors of Terrorism Review Enhancement Act (H.R.5484), and the Women, Peace, and Security Act of 2016 (H.R.5332) at the full Committee markup:

“Mr. Chairman, thank you for convening this markup.  I want to thank our Members for their hard work on all the legislation we’re considering today.  I, I intend to vote yes on all the bills that we have before us.

“Let me begin with Mr. Yoho’s bill, the State Sponsors of Terrorism Review Enhancement Act.  Under current law, a state sponsor of terrorism must end support for terrorism and be on good behavior for six months before it can be taken off the list.  This legislation would expand that period from six months to two years.

“I’m certainly open to expanding the time frame.  And frankly, I cannot foresee any scenario in the near term in which we’d have an interest in removing the countries currently on the list—particularly Iran and Syria.  As we all know, Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, and the Assad regime in Syria isn’t too far behind.

“But as we move forward, we need to think about unintended consequences.  We may face scenarios in the years ahead with countries that may not even be on our radar screen right now.  We need to ensure that we’re not setting up roadblocks to potential diplomatic opportunities that are in America’s national security interest.

“So I’m not going to oppose this bill, I will support the bill.  But I think we need to keep an open mind going forward.  After all, in its current form, the Administration does oppose this measure, and we all want to advance legislation that stands a chance of making it across the finish line.  So I hope this bill, as it goes forward, we can make sure we’re taking the best possible approach.

“Along the same line, I’ll turn to the bill offered by Mr. Poe and Mr. Sherman, which aims to assess North Korea’s bad behavior and determine whether they should be put back on the State Sponsor of Terrorism List.

“We all know the litany of the Kim Regime’s troubling actions: atrocious human rights abuses, assassinations, an illegal nuclear program, targeting other countries using conventional, clandestine, and cyber tools.  The list goes on and on.

“Yet the Bush Administration removed North Korea from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List in 2008.  It was part of a deal to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program. 

“But before the ink was dry on the agreement, North Korea reneged on its commitments and returned to its dangerous course.  I can’t say I was surprised by this.  I think we all know by now, it was a bad deal.  And you cannot believe anything the North Korean regime says and does.

“In the years since, we simply haven’t gotten enough of or the right kind of information for the Administration to correct this mistake and relist North Korea.  This bill would press the Administration to conduct an evidence-based review of the information we do have on North Korea to see if we can, in fact, put them back on that list. 

“I think it's worth taking a closer look at this issue, and that's what this measure does.  I thank Mr. Poe and Mr. Sherman for their efforts on this.

“As, as reprehensible as North Korea is, I think we need to consider if they actually are a state sponsor of terrorism.  They are awful in every, every way we can think, but I think there is a, a fine line as to whether or not they may or may not be a sponsor of terrorism.  But, I do think that this legislation should be, should be passed.

“And finally, I’m happy to support the Women, Peace, and Security Act, brought forward by Representatives Schakowsky and Noem.

“Violent conflicts around the world hit women and girls especially hard.  At the same time, women can play an outsized role in providing stability in communities, pushing back against radical ideologies, and countering violent extremism.

“That’s why nearly five years ago, President Obama unveiled the National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security to force on the importance of women around the world in helping to prevent and resolve conflicts. 

“This legislation would build on those efforts by making sure our foreign policy stays focused on including women in conflict negotiation, promoting the physical and economic security of women around the world, and working to break down the barriers that have prevented the full participation of women.

“This is really a very important issue.  Representative Schakowsky has been driving this effort for years, and I’m glad we have such strong bipartisan support to move this bill forward.

“I would like to enter, Mr. Chairman, into the record a statement of support from our colleague Jan Schakowsky of Illinois on the, on this bill—women, peace, and security bill.  She is one of the authors of the bill, and I thank her for her leadership on these issues.”