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Engel Floor Remarks on Iran Sanctions Extension

ENGEL FLOOR REMARKS ON IRAN SANCTIONS EXTENSION

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WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following remarks in support of the Iran Sanctions Extension Act (H.R.6297) on the House floor:

“Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this measure, and I yield myself as much time as I might consume.  Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

“Let me again thank our Chairman, Ed Royce, for his leadership on the Foreign Affairs Committee.  And I want to thank leadership on both sides of the aisle for working together to get this bipartisan bill to the floor.  Our foreign-affairs legislation, and particularly sanctions, we’ve said this before—I want to say it again.  It always works best when there’s bipartisan support.

“Since the Iran nuclear deal was struck more than a year ago, I’ve consistently said two things: One, I didn’t agree with the deal.  But once it was in effect, we should try to make it work rather than trying to undermine it.

“And two, we should keep looking for ways to hold Iran’s feet to the fire on all the other bad behavior issues: support for terrorism, ballistic missiles, human rights abuses, and all those kinds of things.

“This legislation, I’m happy to say, fits the bill.  We can provide the Administration tools to crack down on Iran and still be fully compliant with our obligations under the nuclear deal.  After all, the exact language in the-this bill is already law on the books.

“The Iran Sanctions Extension Act is a simple, clean extension of current law.  The legislation, which has been authorized with large bipartisan support since 1996, demands that Iran abandon its nuclear weapons program, cease its ballistic program, and stop its support for terrorism.  All of these remain threats to the United States and our allies. 

“The current law is set to expire on December 31st of this year.  We don’t want to let the Iran Sanctions Act lapse.  We don’t want Iran’s leaders to think we’ve lost focus on their other dangerous activities around the world.  That we don’t mind—don’t want them to think that we don’t mind—when they launch ballistic missiles emblazoned with the words in Hebrew, ‘Israel must be wiped out.’  That we will—we must not, they must not think that we will look the other way when they smuggle weapons to the Houthis in Yemen, who last month fired two cruise missiles at a U.S. naval destroyer.

“This is a critical moment in the region.  There’s no end in sight for Hezbollah’s support for the Assad regime.  Iran is sowing instability throughout Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon and the Gulf.  And more and more, our friends and allies are unsure about the future of America’s resolve.  We need to send a clear message that American leadership is a sure thing.

“I also feel very strongly—you know when we all went to school when we were kids, we learned about separation of powers.  Well the legislative branch, this Congress has an important say and an important role to play, and we will continue to do that.

“So this legislation will provide for an immediate snapback of sanctions should Iran cheat on the nuclear deal.  These sanctions must be in place to demonstrate to Iran that there are consequences for non-compliance.

“In ten years, when this legislation expires, we’ll have another discussion.  I sincerely hope that by then, Iran has acceded to every demand of the international community to stop its ballistic missile program and put an end to its destabilizing activities around the region. 

“But in the meantime, hopes won’t safeguard our interests.  That’s why I support this legislation.  That’s why we wrote this legislation.  I urge my colleagues to do the same in supporting it.  I again thank our Chairman, Ed Royce, and I reserve the balance of my time.”