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- As Delivered -

WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today delivered the following statement in opposition to the Iran Terror Finance Transparency Act (H.R. 3662) on the House floor:

“Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  I rise to oppose this measure and I yield myself as much time as I may consume.

“Thank you.  First, I do want to thank my good friend, Chairman Ed Royce.  It’s not very often we find ourselves on different sides of foreign affairs issues, which is a credit to the way he runs our Committee.  But in this case, in my view, this bill isn’t the right fit or the right approach.

“We should go back to the drawing board, rather than ramming through a partisan measure that will never become law.  We should go through our normal process of drafting legislation—in a bipartisan way—with input from both sides.  Rather than advancing something that was put together without a single Democrat having any input whatsoever. 

“As a result, this bill does not have a single Democratic cosponsor.  If we’re going to pass legislation like this, it only works if we do it in a bipartisan way.  As Americans.  Not as Democrats or Republicans.  We should come back here with a bipartisan bill that can actually move forward.  Just as we’ve done again and again and again on the Foreign Affairs Committee.

“The question here is not whether Iran is a good player.  Iran is a bad player.  In fact, it’s a terrible player.  And it’s important that we do act on the challenge of Iran.  Like Chairman Royce, I opposed the Iran deal.  But our side lost the debate.  The deal is in place. 

“Now we need to make sure that Iran is living up to its commitments under that deal.  That every word of the deal is enforced.  That we crack down on Iran’s other bad behavior.  And that we take steps to shore up the security of Israel and our other allies in the region.

“That’s the kind of bill I want to support, and we can do it together.  But this bill doesn’t address any of the issues.  Instead, this bill would establish an impossible standard for the President.  The bill says that in order to remove a person or company from the nuclear sanctions list, the President would have to certify that the person or company—never at any point—engaged in sanctionable behavior.  Including support for Iran’s Weapons of Mass Destructions programs.  Well, if they had never engaged in sanctionable behavior, why would they be on the sanctions list in the first place?  It just doesn’t make sense, Mr. Speaker.

“Now, this could be a drafting flaw, or it could just be about embarrassing the President.  But it would make it impossible for the United States to meet its obligations under the JCPOA.  And that worries me.  Because rather than holding Iran’s feet to the fire and strengthening oversight, we seem to be going down the same path we’ve taken with the Affordable Care Act. 

“Sixty-two times we’ve voted to repeal it.  A couple of months ago, we had a vote which essentially repeals the JCPOA.  And now we’re doing it a second time.  Will we do it 60 more times?  It’s a waste of all of our time.  Let’s put our heads together and come up with a bipartisan bill that really works.

“Now, 62 times to vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  In my opinion, those were symbolic votes.  Because we knew the President would never repeal his own bill.  And today this is a symbolic vote.  Because we know the President is never going to sink his own agreement.

“So my constituents don’t want symbolic votes, Mr. Speaker.  They want results.  And symbolic votes won’t help us crack down on Iran’s support for terrorism or their other dangerous behavior.  But again, I’m confident that we can work in a bipartisan way to craft legislation.  We’ve done it again and again and again on the Foreign Affairs Committee.

“Just look at the Iran sanctions bill that Chairman Royce and I wrote in 2013.  It passed unanimously out of the Foreign Affairs Committee.  Unanimously.  And we have people who believe in their politics from the right to the left and everywhere in between.  But it was unanimous.  Because we did it in a bipartisan way, and it made sense.  It came to the floor and it passed by a vote of 400 to 8.  That’s the kind of thing we should be doing now on this very serious issue.

“So if we’re serious about this issue, that’s the approach we need to take.  I’m confident that in the days ahead, I will be working with Chairman Royce and all of our members to bring forward good, bipartisan legislation.  But this bill is the wrong way to go. 

“I don’t impugn anyone’s motives.  I know people worked hard on this.  But this is just simply—in my opinion—the wrong way to go.  So I will vote against it.  I urge my colleagues to do the same.  And I reserve the balance of my time.”