Engel Remarks at Full Committee Markup
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, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for calling this markup. We have six good measures before us today. I’m happy to support them all. And as always, I want to thank our members of both sides of the isle for their hard work.
"The first measure on our agenda today is the BUILD Act, a proposal from Representatives Yoho and Adam Smith to transform the Overseas Private Investment Corporation—OPIC—into a development finance institution.
"It’s been more than a decade since our Committee made revisions to the OPIC charter. Now, we need new approaches to the way our government uses credit programs to spur economic development and tackle poverty around the world. Promoting global prosperity is a major goal for our foreign policy…and economic assistance and development credit is an essential tool for achieving that.
"I want to highlight for my colleagues that this legislation carries forward existing law and policies regarding the protection of worker’s rights and the environment, and I support moving the bill forward.
"Next, I’d like to thank Chairman Royce for bringing forward his bill, the International Security Assistance Act. This measure strengthens the State Department’s role in coordinating American security assistance to other countries. This is a job for our diplomats, in recent years, we’ve seen more and more of the State Department’s responsibilities trickle to other agencies and this is a trend we need to stop. So, I strongly support this bill.
"It’s important that we strengthen our international security partnerships with our allies. I’d like to thank Reps. Ros-Lehtinen and Deutch, the Chairman and Ranking Member on the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, for their leadership on the U.S.-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act.
"This legislation codifies the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding on assistance, signed by the United States and Israel, and shepherded by the Obama administration. This MOU—and the assistance that comes from it—represents the unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel and the shared interests and values that have been the hallmark of our relationship.
"We cannot put a dollar amount on this relationship. But what President Obama accomplished in this MOU showed the strength of these ties.
"The legislation also includes provisions authored by Representatives Boyle, Schneider, Kilmer, Crist and Langevin to enhance all the dimensions of the US-Israel relationship from cybersecurity, to drone detection, to space exploration.
"Cybersecurity must also be a top priority when it comes to our own government and that’s why I’m proud to support the Hack Your State Department Act, offered by Representatives Yoho and Lieu.
"This bill will strengthen the State Department’s cybersecurity in two ways: firstly, it will require the Secretary to take a hard look at the Department’s cyber vulnerabilities. Secondly, it will establish a pilot program in which the State department will reward people who identify unknown security risks in the Department’s computer systems. These ideas are modeled on programs being used successfully in the Department of Defense and the private sector. This bill will help strengthen our cyber defenses, and I urge all members to support it.
"Advancing America’s energy security is also a vital aspect of US foreign policy. Congressman McCaul’s Energy Diplomacy Act of 2018 addresses this critical issue. Congress must ensure the State Department is able to protect and promote our energy policies abroad. This bill helps in that effort by creating an Assistant Secretary of State for Energy resources and requiring the Secretary of State to make sure that the State Department has personnel dedicated to energy diplomacy and security. I support this measure, and I hope all members will do the same.
"Another important measure for our security is the Global Engagement Center Authorities Act, offered by Congressmen Schneider and Lieu. The Global Engagement Center is charged with leading the interagency effort to counter Russia and other states that use information warfare to undermine democracies.
"Representatives Kinzinger and Lieu played an important role in establishing this mission, and the Center’s work is more important now than ever. Congress made 120 million dollars over the past two years available to the GEC specifically to counter foreign propaganda and disinformation.
"Despite that urgent need, the Trump Administration has inexplicably not used any of this funding, I don’t know why, and their self-imposed hiring freezes have prevented them from doing this critical job effectively. This legislation will update the Center’s authorities and enhance this committee’s ability to conduct oversight so that we can put the Center in a better position to succeed.
"I support this bill, along with the other measures we’re considering today. I again thank all our members on both sides of the aisle. And I yield back. Thank you, Mr. Chairman."