WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today delivered the following remarks at a full committee markup of four measures:
“Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for calling this markup. We have four good measures before us today. I’m glad to support them all. And I thank all our members on both sides, always, for their hard work.
“But before I get to these four items, I have to say in my view, we need to consider additional sanctions against Russia for its ongoing attack on American democracy. The Chairman and I worked together to get the big sanctions bill across the finish line last year, and we want to see it implemented.
“So I hope we’ll soon consider another bill that I introduced with Mr. Connolly, the SECURE Our Democracy Act. It would specifically sanction anyone who interferes with an American election from overseas.
“I think we need to do whatever it takes. And if the Administration won’t do it, it’s up to us.
“And I want to thank you again, Mr. Chairman, for bringing forward the No Assistance for Assad Act, which I introduced at the end of last year. I’m grateful for your support as a cosponsor, along with that of Mr. Kinzinger and Mr. Boyle.
“The Assad regime’s brutal campaign of violence wages on. It’s just horrific, it’s a loss of innocent life. We saw it in Aleppo, in Madaya, and now in Eastern Ghouta. People are transmitting their goodbyes to their loved ones as they live under intense bombardment. The regime is using chemical weapons again, children are suffocating. And silence from the international community.
“As we continue to work to find some way to end the bloodshed, we also need to start thinking about what will come down the road.
“This bill says that American assistance for reconstruction should be available in areas controlled by Assad only if the regime stops indiscriminate use of weapons… only if the regime ends attacks on civilians and civilian facilities. This bill says that money can only flow if the regime releases political prisoners… allows human-rights organizations access to the prisons… and removes senior officials complicit in human-rights abuses.
“There’s a number of other benchmarks as well: moving toward free and fair elections and an independent judiciary… minimizing reliance on Iran… allowing the safe return of refugees.
“These limitations won’t affect locally administered projects. They won’t affect humanitarian assistance.
“Recovery in Syria will be a slow and painful process. But we cannot allow those responsible for hundreds of thousands of murders to control American dollars meant to help the country rebuild.
“I’m grateful for the bipartisan support this bill has already received, and I ask all members to support moving it forward today.
“Let me thank next Mr. McCaul, the Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, and one of our good members of this Committee, and Mr. Deutch for offering their bill to expand sanctions on Iran as it relates to taking American citizens prisoner.
“We all know Iran’s human-rights record is just atrocious. Torture and brutal punishment are the norm. Iran has a record of extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances, like the 1988 massacre. Human-rights advocates, political dissidents, and journalists are regular targets of the regime. And of course, Iran continues to detain American citizens, notably [SEE-ah-mak and BAH-care na-MAH-zee] Siamak and Baquer Namazi, Siamak and Baquer Namazi, and [SHE-yeh Wong] Xiyue Wang.
“This bill would expand on existing human-rights sanctions in a way that doesn’t affect American obligations under the nuclear deal. So I’m glad to support this bill.
“I’m also grateful to Representative Bass for her resolution condemning the disgusting slave auctions taking place in Libya.
“Libya has become a transit hub for migrants moving north to Europe, with as many as a million refugees and migrants, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, currently in the country.
“In the absence of effective government, these vulnerable men and women have been brutally exploited as human trafficking victims—sold at auction and forced to work for no pay. Can you imagine, in 2018, this is still happening?
“This measure condemns this horrible practice and calls upon authorities in Libya to put a quick stop to this practice.
“And finally, I’m glad to support Representative LaHood’s concurrent resolution supporting the United Bid Committee’s work to bring the 2026 FIFA World Cup to Canada, Mexico, and the United States.
“At a time when the Administration has been trampling on our relations with our northern and southern neighbors, I’m glad that Congress continues to see the importance of these ties.
“Bringing the World Cup back to the United States would be a boon for host cities and allow us, along with our Canadian and Mexican neighbors, to set the standards on hosting this tournament, which will expand from 32 to 48 teams in 2026.
“I support this resolution, along with the other measures we’re considering today. I again thank all our members on both sides. And I yield back. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”
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