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Accelerating the Increase in the Refundability of the Child Tax Credit - Motion to Proceed

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Location: Washington, DC

ACCELERATING THE INCREASE IN THE REFUNDABILITY OF THE CHILD TAX CREDIT—MOTION TO PROCEED

AMENDMENT NO. 1138 TO AMENDMENT NO. 1136

Mr. BROWNBACK. Mr. President, this is a simple amendment. I wish to spend a little bit of time talking about it, but it is quite straightforward, it is very important, and it is quite timely.

This amendment regards North Korean refugees and their seeking of refugee status in the United States. It is a one-paragraph amendment. Succinctly put, this will allow the United States to accept as refugees North Koreans who are fleeing North Korea and accept them as refugees into the United States. There currently is a legal dispute as to whether they can be accepted as refugees into the United States. The reason is because when you are born on the Korean peninsula, under the South Korea Constitution, they are automatically citizens of South Korea. Under our law, if you go to another country, you can go there and not seek refugee status here.

There are exits of massive proportions taking place out of North Korea today. We do not know how many. Some have guessed it is as low as 30,000 and as high as 300,000 North Koreans currently outside North Korea and in China living off the land. South Korea really cannot be expected to take all of these refugees who are fleeing China.

It would be an important statement, an important gesture of the United States to be willing to accept North Koreans who are fleeing as refugees into the United States. We can talk about how many at a later time. This seeks to clarify the legal dispute right now so they can be accepted.

The reason I say it is important right now is because currently, at a British consulate in China, there are four North Korean refugees seeking refugee status in the United States, and they are being denied that status of coming to the United States.

I think it is very important that they be allowed to come here as a statement of our support for freedom and liberty and against the tyranny of Kim Jong-il and his regime. The story of the North Korean people is one of the saddest tales on Earth, of hunger and fear and desperation. Isolation, indoctrination, torture, and arbitrary executions are the means to keep North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and his circle of cronies in power, and they exercise this authority and abuse that enormously.

Just the other day, the Financial Times reported on the lavish lifestyle of the North Korean tyrannical dictator saying that while Kim kept a private chef flown in from Japan to prepare his meals:

His people were forced to consume .    .    . tree bark, grass and insects to stave off starvation.

The wretched situation inside North Korea has forced many North Koreans to take flight to any country that will accept them. The most logical destination is China, given its porous border and proximity with North Korea. Yet China refuses to acknowledge North Korean refugees, instead calling them "economic migrants," thereby denying them protections normally afforded those fleeing political persecution. This is first and foremost a humanitarian concern for the fate of several hundred thousand refugees currently hiding in fear from North Korea in northeast China.

Without forcing China to grant this opening for safe harbor, not only will we be abandoning the North Korean refugees in China but we will be abandoning the 22 million people still inside North Korea. If a window for exodus is created, then the North Korean people will want to escape Kim Jong-il's tyranny. Though it is not yet certain, this exodus will likely expose the fissures in the regime, therefore triggering its implosion.

I rise to offer this amendment to the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, an amendment version of the North Korean refugee bill that I recently introduced along with other Members. Senator Kennedy has been a key sponsor and supporter of this effort, which will allow North Koreans fleeing Kim Jong-il's tyranny to be resettled in the United States.

Under the Constitution of the Republic of Korea, any person born on the Korean peninsula of a Korean father automatically retains the right to citizenship in the Republic of Korea, that is South Korea. That presents a simple problem for Koreans wishing to be resettled here in the United States.

This past weekend, as I noted, while we were enjoying hot dogs, fireworks, and family during the Fourth of July Independence Day, four teenaged North Koreans made their way to the consulate of the United Kingdom in Shanghai, China. These four North Koreans wanting to get away from the Stalinist-style repression sought refuge first with the British consulate, but expressed the desire to be resettled as political refugees in the United States.

According to today's Korea Times, their request to be resettled in America was denied by the U.S. Government, reportedly
saying that it is the U.S. position not to "accept North Korean defectors."

These are people simply yearning to be free from a Stalinist, repressive regime, one of the worst human rights situations in the world, one of the worst politically oppressive situations in the world. If this is the case, if they are being denied by our Government, then I wonder if the Department of State believes that by doing so it is upholding America's responsibility under international law and fulfilling our moral obligation to give safe harbor to anyone fleeing persecution, and clearly they are.

I find this report to be appalling. It is sad to me to think that of all the United States can do in the world, and do so correctly, it is to be humane and uphold the principles of human dignity.

On June 5 of this year, I chaired a hearing titled "Life Inside North Korea," exposing the brutality of Kim Jong-il's regime. In January, I attended the inauguration of the new South Korean president, President No, in which I asked him, a former human rights lawyer and admirer of Abraham Lincoln, to have compassion for his fellow Koreans across the DMZ and help them in their exodus.

Last December, I traveled to northeast China along the North Korean-Chinese border to see the situation there, to meet with local Chinese officials and get input from NGOs working with North Korean refugees trapped in China.

Finally, in June of 2002, Senator Kennedy and I held a hearing on North Korean refugees and the resettlement question.
My amendment would ensure that at least there is the opportunity to come to the United States as refugees and it would give hope to those fleeing this repressive regime of North Korea.

There is much we could do to prioritize resettlement of North Korean refugees, but this is the first, easiest, and most noncontroversial step. I want to thank Chairman Lugar and Senator Biden for allowing me to offer this amendment and give this consideration before the committee.

This is a situation that needs to be addressed now. It will be an enormous positive statement to the world and to the Korean refugees if the United States says, yes, we will accept refugees from North Korea. It will be a terrible travesty if we say, no, we will not accept refugees fleeing one of the cruelest, meanest dictators in the world.

About a third of the North Korean people right now live on international food donations, much of which are coming from the United States. It is a regime that is repressive beyond belief. There are books out now—one I have read, "Eyes of the Tailless Animals"—about how the regime treats the people so horrifically, worse than animals.

We have had pictures of refugees coming out—they drew them. They could not take pictures, but they showed how deplorable the conditions are.

I ask for a strong vote in this body to pass this amendment allowing the possibility of resettlement of North Korean refugees in the United States.

I yield the floor.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

AMENDMENT NO. 1141

Mr. BROWNBACK. Mr. President, I rise to address the Boxer amendment being considered. I acknowledge the passion and leadership of the Senator from California. I have always respected her thoughtful arguments. We have had some issues in agreement and some issues in disagreement. This happens to be one we are in disagreement but it does not reduce my acknowledging her skill and abilities and the heart she brings to each and every discussion she puts forward.

This is a straightforward and simple issue, one that everyone can clearly grasp. It is about the use of taxpayer dollars,
Federal, U.S. taxpayer dollars to fund abortions overseas; do you agree or disagree with that.

Some say, yes, we should do that; other people say, no, I don't think we should use taxpayer dollars overseas to fund issues such as this. Others say, I don't think we should use taxpayer dollars to fund abortion because of their deeply held feeling they are aborting a child and they disagree fundamentally with that. We have a clear issue before the Senate.

I note the history behind the so-called Mexico City language. On January 22, 2001, when President George Bush was sworn in and put into office as President of the United States, in one of his first acts, he reinstated the Mexico City policy. I say "reinstated"; this was a policy President Reagan put in place. It was in place during President Reagan's term in office, in place during President Bush I's first term in office, and immediately repealed when President Clinton came into office.

The policy simply states that it prohibits Federal taxpayers from funding foreign organizations that "perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations." That is what the Mexico City language is: "perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations."

So the President is saying as part of U.S. policy that we will not fund private organizations, NGOs, that perform or actively promote abortion overseas.

That is the issue. That is the point of the issue. You can color it with a lot of stories, you can color it with a lot of rhetoric, but the issue to decide in this body is, do we want to use taxpayer dollars to fund abortions or promote abortion overseas.

As I note to people, there are primarily two grounds that people disagree. The first ground is as a moral objection. A number of people just disagree with the issue of abortion. It is probably the most difficult social issue today as a society. We debate it regularly. The issue is, is the young child a person or a piece of property.

Others look at this differently. Senator Boxer and I have different views on that particular issue. I think history will clearly point out the side I represent is accurate and true and is the side I hope ultimately all Americans will agree with, that we believe in the fundamental rights of a personhood and of dignity, of each and every individual, no matter how weak or helpless they might be. It is in the great traditions of the Democratic Party to support people in a difficult spot, and it should be that support for the weakest and the most vulnerable which clearly that child in the womb represents. That is No. 1 as an issue.

The second issue, should you use taxpayer dollars, taxpayers from California, from Missouri, from Kansas, from Indiana, wherever they might be, should we be using those to support a policy that funds abortion in Nepal and Africa or that supports organizations in various places around the world that want to either perform abortions or promote the use of abortion in that country and that society? A number of people would say yes, I am willing to use taxpayer funds to go do that. Probably more people in the country, I think if you would poll people in the United States, would say no. No. 1, I think you spend too much overseas the way it is right now. No. 2, I disagree with you either paying for abortions overseas or supporting organizations that are trying to promote abortion overseas. I think that is a bad use of taxpayer dollars.

Those are the fundamental arguments that people bring forth in looking at the Mexico City policy. I think the Mexico City policy is a very commonsense policy that has been put forward by President Reagan, put forward by President Bush, George Bush No. 1, President Bush No. 2 as well. It has been in law since 1984, as an administrative act by the President. It is based in part on the belief that U.S. taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize or support organizations that perform or promote abortions overseas for family planning programs.

I have noted some of the specific arguments why that takes place. I want to take on one of the indirect arguments that a number of people raise. Some people argue incorrectly that Federal tax dollars would not have to be used for the actual abortion but could still be used to support the organization's other activities. This argument fails to properly understand the fungibility of money. Once you give money to a organization, it can use that for a broad range of causes. It can say, Look, we don't use this money for abortions or promoting abortions because we will use it in this sector, sector A of our organization. But in sector B of our organization we do fund abortions and we do promote abortions.

This money can be used to subsidize the overhead operation of the organization, it can be used to subsidize a mailing, and while this portion doesn't support abortion, there is also an additional mailing inserted that does. It can be used in the fungibility of the dollars. That is why we tried to put forward—why President Bush has tried to put forward a clear firewall on this set of funds.

It is not that the United States should not try to do good overseas, because we should and we are. I applaud this President for his efforts in global HIV, on the Millennium Challenge Account, where we are trying to help people in other countries to get out of these debilitating, horrific situations of HIV and its spread, of trying to give them some economic opportunity.
The President put those forward. I strongly support those and hope those will clear through the Congress.

But here is one: Why would we take something so controversial, so counter to so many Americans' fundamental beliefs, fundamental thoughts, and say to the American taxpayer: We are going to use your dollars to do this, and, yes, we know you disagree with it on moral grounds and, yes, we know you disagree with it on fiscal grounds, yet we are going to go ahead and do that?

If we are so concerned about the individual overseas, and we should be, why not put the money in something we all agree with that is a terrible problem like global HIV or solving issues dealing with malaria or other diseases that are horrific but that do not get the number of research dollars they should for developing cures for them because they are in countries where people do not have enough resources to be able to buy the pharmaceutical drugs that would cure them? There are so many better ways you could spend this type of money than in something so controversial and so counter to what America stands for.

I think it is important for us to vote against the Boxer amendment.

There is a final reason here. I want to hit this point. There is another one as well. The final reason here is that the President has stated clearly he will veto the bill if this language that funds overseas abortions or the promotion of abortion is included in this bill. If that is in this bill, the administration will veto this bill.

The chairman and the ranking member have worked very hard to put a bill together to do the authorizing on authorization instead of appropriations so we can get a bill through. Rather than having it vetoed, wouldn't it be wise for us to go ahead and get this through?

One of the reasons we were criticized, and I think rightfully so, in the last Congress was that we didn't get anything done.
There was a major Energy bill, didn't get it done; a major Medicare bill, didn't get it done. What the chairman and ranking member are trying to do here is pass a major State Department authorization, foreign assistance. We are trying to get it done and we can get it done. We can finish this and we can get it done. Yet you are trying to insert language to kill the whole bill and the whole process. On top of the controversy for using the funds for these purposes, the controversy about the whole moral issue of abortion, you are going to cause the veto of a bill over this issue.

I do not think that is wise legislating on our part. I do not think it is the appropriate way for us to go. I think the American people would look at that as well and say: You know, this isn't a life-or-death issue on the point of getting this language.

Some would contend it is. If that is the case, let's make a malaria cure a portion. That is a life-and-death issue. But you are going to kill a bill by including such controversial language in it.

I urge my colleagues to reject this attempt to overturn President Bush's clear language, the clear policy that I think represents, really, what the American people want to see us do.

With that, I would like an opportunity—I think there are others who are going to speak on this bill—to possibly be able to rejoin the debate to answer some of the points that might be put forward.

I yield the floor.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

AMENDMENT NO. 1145 TO AMENDMENT NO. 1136

Mr. BROWNBACK. This concerns providing support for democracy in Iran and has been previously filed and been amended.

I worked closely with Senator Lugar, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Biden, the ranking member.
Together we have worked out language that we have all agreed to on an important issue of democracy and promotion of democracy in Iran.

This is a very important issue to the country and to the people of Iran. I am very thankful to the chairman and to the ranking member and their staffs for working together to get this language put together, language that is very strong, quite good, and makes a very positive statement.

I rise to discuss this important issue. It is our policy toward Iran. As the President rightly stated, Iran is a member of the axis of evil. The terrorist atrocities it spreads around the world are equalled by the horrific atrocities committed against its own people.

Today marks the fourth anniversary of the first major Iranian protest against a government that promised reform and utterly failed. I will show a picture to my colleagues of that protest 4 years ago, 1999, July 9—4 years ago today. The students, protesters, were out, thousands protesting the Government of Iran and saying they desired freedom.

This is a scene of that. It is being replayed again today. Protesters are out in Iran, even though the regime is doing everything they can to stop it, having quasi-police groups—really, thugs—going around and beating people with chains.
They are putting people in prison. But people continue to protest.

This is a picture of a protest taking place 2 weeks ago, not just in Tehran now but protests are taking place all over the country, as the fire of democracy and liberty continues to burn aggressively among the people of Iran.

These are people who are pro-American, as well, broadly throughout Iran. They support the United States and our stand for freedom and democracy. It is important we stand with them.

The fact we continue to see protests in Iran despite very harsh treatment is showing the world that these protests are growing and will eventually lead to real change inside Iran. It is very appropriate it is today that we are offering this amendment to the State Department authorization bill which declares firmly that America supports real democracy in Iran.
What is there now is not democracy.

It is a very basic message. It is extremely important that this body send a message to the Iranian people, and send it today, that we support their struggle for freedom.

This is not just an altruistic gesture of support. Supporting the forces of democracy in Iran is in the direct security interest of America. As I am sure many of you have heard, there are new reports about additional nuclear weapons facilities in Iran—these are based on military complexes and there can now be no misunderstanding of the intent behind this technology. Estimates are that Iran could have nuclear weapons as early as 2005.

Also, Iran has just confirmed that it has successfully tested a midrange missile, the Shahab-3, which is capable of hitting Israel, parts of Saudi Arabia and Iraq, where many of our troops are stationed.

This means that Iran could have nuclear weapons—and the means to deliver them to hit us and our allies.

Clearly, this is a bad situation which is growing worse by the day. So, why, in this context, would we shy away from supporting pro-democracy forces in Iran that want to bring the rule of law, respect for human rights and an end to support for terrorism to their country?

Some have said that if the U.S. supports the protestors, we will be bound to intervene militarily. These people have not paid attention to the unique situation inside Iran or the fact that Iranians don't want U.S. military intervention but, rather, strong moral and political support.

Young people make up nearly 70 percent of the country—and they are taking it back from the mullah minority. The Iranian people are a proud, strong, and independent people. They do not need, nor do they want, an outside military force to come into their land. They will handle this matter themselves. They have already begun to do so. This does not mean that the military option is off the table. America reserves the right to protect its people and innocent civilians from a nuclear threat or further Iranian-backed terrorists, but this is a defensive option.

To be honest, America hopes that the Iranian people change their regime themselves, and the hesitancy you see within America's foreign policy circles with regard to Iran comes largely because there is such hope for internal change, where there was none in Iraq or Afghanistan.

There is no division in the U.S. Government about the fact that Iran is a threat to its own people and certainly to Americans. The Iranian people and the Iranian regime alike should know that we are united and resolute in our understanding of what Iran is doing. We will not allow Iran to spread its corruption throughout the region.
As President Bush so clearly stated in his State of the Union Address this year:

In Iran, we continue to see a government that represses its people, pursues weapons of mass destruction, and supports terror. We also see Iranian citizens risking intimidation and death as they speak out for liberty and human rights and democracy. Iranians, like all people, have a right to choose their own government and determine their own destiny—and the United States supports their aspirations to live in freedom.

That is what the President, stated in the State of the Union Address of January 28, 2003.

Recently, the President praised the Iranian people who kept up protests for over a week in the face of government sponsored thugs who beat innocent women with chains. The President called these protests "heroic" and indeed they are.

Just as it was an important rhetorical step for President Reagan to dub the Soviet Union "an Evil Empire," so too it is important for us to recognize the current regime in Iran for what it is—an illegitimate, ruling elite that stifles the growth of genuine democracy, abuses human rights and exports terrorism.

It is clear by the Iranian regime's treatment of its own people in their attempt to be heard, that Iran is no democracy.

After all, it is the State Department's own report that classifies Iran as the largest state sponsor of terrorism. Do we really believe this is the will of the entire Iranian population? If so, we are saying that all Iranians are terrorists. This is wrong, and America must make it clear that we see the difference between the Iranian regime and the Iranian people—and we are supporting the people.

You can't call a country that screens the candidates a democracy. You can't call a government that tortures and kills its people openly a democracy. You can't call a country that refuses to enforce the laws that the screened, elected officials pass a democracy. All this is currently going on under Iran's so-called reformers.

I want to show how the reformers were elected into office. I will show a chart so my colleagues can easily see how we do get to the government that is currently in place in Iran. Seven years ago President Khatami was elected by the people. But how did he even get on the ballot? I want to show that, and also make some statements about his election.

For people to be running as candidates in Iran today, they have to go through the Council of Guardians. This is six members appointed by the Supreme Leader and six by the judiciary. The Supreme Leader is appointed by the council as well and is appointed for life. Khamenei, Supreme Leader, appointed six and six by the judiciary. Then all the candidates running for President, Assembly of Experts, 86 clerics elected for 8-year terms, and the Parliament, 290 members elected for 4-year terms, all these candidates have to be vetted by this 12-member council, so you can't get on the ballot unless you clear through the 12-member council for any of these three—the Parliament, the Assembly of Experts, or the President. You can't get on the ballot unless you clear through these 12 people, 6 appointed by the Supreme Leader who is appointed by them for life, never stands for election in front of the people, and 6 appointed by the judiciary. This is not a free election.

What about Khatami's election to President? He was elected for 4 years, for a 4-year term initially. This was 7 years ago. In his initial attempt he was elected. He was voted on, overwhelmingly favored by the people as the most reformist-minded candidate that the Council of Guardians would even let on the ballot. Over 60 percent of the people say: This is our guy because he is the most reformist, open-minded of the group, even though he was not. And it turned out that he was exactly what the Council of Guardians wanted: Good face, looks a little friendlier, gives the people a way to voice their thoughts.
But he did not reform. He did not bring democracy. He did not bring human rights. He did not bring rights to women within the country. And he kept the country continuing its movement toward terrorism.

Even if you take all the power of these elected officials—so-called elected officials—they don't have the power over foreign policy, over the military, or over the Treasury. That continues to be held by the Supreme Leader and the Council of Guardians. So most of the power isn't even in the people who are so-called elected.

This is not a democracy, and that is why the people continue to protest—because they do not get to pick their own leaders and they want to pick their own leaders.

I want to show you what has taken place inside Iran, as a country, and why there is so much discontent, and why people are saying: Down with the President of Iran. Down with the Council of Guardians. They are so actively willing to protest and risk their own lives, and risk being arrested and beaten.

One thing I want to point out, too, these protests that have been taking place in the last couple of weeks, several sons and daughters of parliamentarians have been arrested as protesters. They are saying: Look, this government is not reform minded and we, as children of the parliamentarians, are saying this is not reform. And they have been arrested. They see the fallacy of the system, that it isn't working.

Look at this long-term trajectory pattern that Iran is on since 1978. Since the last government was thrown out, the Shah, and the protests were taking place, in 1979, what has happened to Iran? It was taken over by the ruling Mullahs, the Ayatolla at that time. They took captives of U.S. Embassy personnel for over 400-some days. Look what has taken place.
Per capita, GDP is 20 percent lower today than in 1978 in Iran. There is widespread corruption, which was a key contributor of the 1979 revolution. Youth unemployment exceeds 30 percent. There has been a huge population explosion. Fifty percent of the population is under age 20—50 percent of the population.

There are religious legitimacy problems, persistent challenges to the Supreme Leader's religious credentials, and most Grand Ayatollahs do not approve of the Supreme Leader's doctrine on religious matters.

So this is really fomenting a situation. All we are doing with this amendment, which has been agreed to, and has strong language, is saying this is an illegitimate government; that we should and we do support true democracy in Iran and the right of the people to actually choose their leadership in Iran.

I think it is one of the most important things we can do. We need to show clear moral support to the people who are risking their lives today on the streets, across the country of Iran.

I hope we can get this through, that we can express our clear support to the Iranian people. This will be a powerful statement to the people protesting today.

I hope we can agree to this yet this evening.

I thank the chairman for allowing me to bring it up on the floor.

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