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Engel Remarks at Full Committee Markup

Jul 27, 2017
Press Release

- As Delivered –

WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following remarks at the full Committee markup of nine measures, including his own resolution calling upon authorities in Kenya to hold a free and fair election:

“Mr. Chairman, thank you for calling the markup.  We’ve got a number of good, bipartisan measures, and I’m glad to support all of them.

“I’d like to start with a measure I authored which sends a strong message as Kenya prepares for its next elections.  And I’m grateful to you, Mr. Chairman, for bringing this resolution up today.  I’m grateful to Mr. Smith of New Jersey and Ms. Bass of California—the Chair and Ranking Members of the Africa Subcommittee—who are lead cosponsors of this legislation.

“Kenya is an important partner of the United States.  This is a country that promotes regional stability and serves as an economic and humanitarian hub for East Africa.  We want Kenya to remain strong, and that’s why the State Department and USAID have long supported credible, open elections in that country.

“This has been a challenging time for Kenya.  A challenging area for Kenya.  A decade ago, a wave of violence followed elections, and in 2013, troubling irregularities plagued the voting process there.

“In advance of the elections scheduled for August 8th, this resolution calls upon Kenya to hold credible, peaceful, free, and fair elections and condemn in the strongest terms hate speech and the incitement of violence by political candidates, the media, or any Kenyan citizens. 

“It also calls upon the United States and Kenya’s other international partners to continue to support Kenya’s efforts to address the remaining electoral preparation challenges, and to identify gaps where additional resources or diplomatic engagement could make important contributions to the conduct of the elections.

“This measure isn’t about taking sides in Kenya’s politics, but instead reaffirms the importance of our partnership with Kenya, and our support for the people of that country as they go to the polls.  I wish Ms. Bass and Ms. Frankel well and am proud that they are representing us during that election and I ask all Members support this resolution.

“I’d like to say a few words about some other measures we’re conducting today.

“I am proud to be an original co-sponsor of the North Korean Human Rights Act introduced by my friend Representative Ros-Lehtinen.  This measure authorizes the current law until 2022, extending American efforts to promote the human rights of North Koreans, and making important adjustments to U.S. broadcasting and other efforts to get unbiased information in to the people of North Korea.  These are timely changes, as we’re all very concerned by North Korea’s advancing weapons capability.

“You know, the Chairman has done a lot of work with Korea.  I have been there twice.  I don’t think we’re going to go any [time] in the future, or in the short future.  But I'm glad to support this measure.  I think it sends a very strong message to the North Korean regime.

“I’m also glad to support another resolution from Chairman Smith, calling on authorities in Ethiopia to lift the state of emergency and end the excessive use of force by Ethiopian security forces, urging protestors to refrain from violence, and calling on the Administration to hold accountable individuals responsible for gross human rights violations.

“I’m grateful to Mr. DeSantis for his resolution highlighting the devastating political, economic, and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.  With its massive energy resources, Venezuela should be one of the wealthiest countries in the world.  It marks a profoundly sad day when our Congress and others in the international community must consider how to most effectively provide food and medicine to the Venezuelan people—but that’s the deeply troubling record of the Maduro government.

“And we’ve all been very vocal in that, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen probably the most vocal and right on the money so to speak through the years.  Talking about Maduro and his predecessor Mr. Chavez, both of whom are running that country, have run that country, and are running that country to the ground.

“Chairman Duncan of our Western Hemisphere Subcommittee has offered a good resolution reaffirming the strategic partnership between the United States and Canada.  I am particularly pleased that this resolution takes note of extensive cooperation between our two countries within NATO at a time when our own Administration has questioned the importance of this alliance.

“Next, I’d again like to thank Representatives Ros-Lehtinen and also Representative Sires for introducing the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act, also known as the NICA Act.  President Ortega and his lackeys have shown zero regard for democracy and the rule of law in Nicaragua. 

“This legislation is an important step in holding the Nicaraguan government accountable by opposing loans to these corrupt leaders, while taking precautions not to make things worse for the many Nicaraguans who are already suffering in what is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. 

“I remember when I was a Chairman of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, and we visited Ortega in Nicaragua and we knew there were problems then.  There are certainly even greater problems now.

“I’m also glad to support a measure by Mr. Deutch of Florida, urging the EU to name the Hezbollah organization as a terrorist organization and put greater pressure on Hezbollah fundraising within Europe.  

“In July 2013, the EU announced that it would consider the ‘military wing’ of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization after a spike of terrorist activity in Europe.  This came after a wave of attacks and attempted attacks perpetrated by Hezbollah in Europe. 

“The United States does not make the distinction and rightfully so between the military and political wings of Hezbollah—and frankly neither does Hezbollah.  We consider the whole organization to be a terrorist organization, and the European Union should do the same.

“I appreciate Representatives Castro and Wagner's leadership on the Association of South East Asian Nations, what we call ASEAN—both in offering this measure and launching the Congressional ASEAN caucus. 

“This resolution recognizes the 50 years ASEAN has promoted stability, prosperity, and peace in Southeast Asia and underscores why this institution—and most importantly the countries that make it up— matter to America’s economy and security.

“And lastly, I’m glad to support a bill by Representatives Chabot and Kelly to help improve access to education for displaced children—especially girls.  Around the world, nearly four million displaced children don’t have access to public education.  We know obviously, this disadvantage can set these young people back for the rest of their lives. 

“So this bill would make it a priority for the State Department and USAID to work with multilateral organizations, with civil society, and with private-sector partners to help these vulnerable young people access education and get on a better path forward.  I’m grateful to both of my colleagues for introducing this measure.

“And I’m grateful to Members on both sides of the aisle for all their hard work, their willingness to collaborate, and their commitment to advancing good, bipartisan legislation that enhances American leadership and security.

“Mr. Chairman, this has been a hallmark of our Committee under your leadership and I am delighted to play a part in it.  Thank you.  I yield back.”

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