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Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2018

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. Chair, I rise today in support of amendment No. 190, which would help prevent companies from weaponizing the Iranian regime and help stop the flow of troops and armaments to Assad's murderous regime.

This amendment would prohibit the Office of Foreign Assets Control from authorizing the sale of aircraft to Iran.
Western companies are in the process of trying to sell dozens of planes to Iran Air--that is Iran's flagship carrier--and other Iranian airlines with deep ties to hostile Iranian actors.

Iran's aviation sector, led by Iran Air, has a long history of illicitly transporting militants, weapons, and explosives on commercial aircraft to terror groups and rogue regimes. Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps--the IRGC--and Iran's Ministry of Defense use commercial aircraft to directly support Iran's campaign of terror around the Middle East.

In recent years, both before the Iran nuclear deal and after, Iranian airlines have served as a lifeline to the Assad regime, transporting weapons and troops to the embattled dictator. Iran Air was recently designated by the U.S. Treasury for such activity. Numerous Iranian airlines remain sanctioned.

Last year, while speaking on the floor in support of these same amendments, which passed the floor, I had on display this map beside me exhibiting the route of an Iran Air flight in the middle of the night from an IRGC hub to war-torn Damascus. This midnight flight was unscheduled and flew on a routine Iranian arms supply path to Syria.

Hundreds of these flights are documented, showing a sophisticated Iranian arms supply system using commercial jets.

On display now is even more compelling evidence of Iran Air's nefarious activity. These recently taken photos display Iran-backed Afghani militiamen flying Iran Air to Syria. You can see these same militiamen holding AK-47s on the ground in the Syrian war zone and prepping heavy artillery. These fighters are reported to be part of an IRGC training Afghan Shiite militia actively fighting for the Assad regime. Iran Air and the IRGC transport these jihadis to Syria to fight for a dictator responsible for the deaths of almost a half a million people, Mr. Chairman.

Until Iran ceases using commercial aircraft to support terrorists and war criminals, Western companies ought not be allowed to sell Iranian airlines more aircraft that they can use to fuel Assad's brutal war.

Mr. Chair, I reserve the balance of my time.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. Chairman, my friend from Oregon acknowledges that there are bad people doing bad things in Iran. Well, let's not help them. Let's not be complicit.

And as to the candlelight vigils, none of the mullahs, none of the leadership, were involved in candlelight vigils for the United States.

These are the people that are chanting and provoking: Death to America.

This does no violence to those who were supporters of the JCPOA. They like it. This has no impact on it whatsoever. Furthermore, it doesn't put American companies at any other disadvantage than other companies have. In other words, the two big players here are Airbus and Boeing, neither of whom, if we are successful with this amendment, would be able to sell into that marketplace. Why? Because Airbus has the same level of technology, they get caught up in the same net that we do.

We have got to ask the question: Do we step back and say, ``Wow. It is just complicated and it is overwhelming, and, inshallah, let's do nothing''?

No. Let's lean in. Let's make a decision. Let's be articulate and let's say that we are choosing not to be complicit with what we know is outrageous, and that is the use of commercial aircraft supporting the world's largest state sponsor of terror. This is fairly intuitive. The House has come together on these issues in the past.

Mr. Chair, I urge its passage, and I yield back the balance of my time.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. Chairman, this amendment is similar to the previous amendment debated. Specifically, it would prohibit the Office of Foreign Assets Control from authorizing U.S. financial institutions-- that is the distinction--from financing aircraft and sales to Iran.

It is the same reasons. It is all the same facts. It is fairly straightforward.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. Chairman, to close, as to the argument about ideological riders, this is the Article I branch. It is the prerogative of the House of Representatives and the Congress to speak and decide how money is to be spent.

As to the notion that, the accusation that this breaches the JCPOA, as much of a critic as I am of that deal, this doesn't breach it. So it is in compliance with it.

The notion of jobs is an interesting one, and it kind of creates a moral quandary until, Mr. Chairman, you balance out these two things: jobs versus lives. Is that really a question here? Aren't lives more important than jobs? Isn't it an interesting thing that several Members of the Washington State delegation where Boeing, in particular, is headquartered have actively written to the leadership of the Boeing Company saying, don't do this, essentially, and don't put our employees in the moral quandary of having to move forward on this? Finally, Mr. Chairman, how would we be feeling if the debate were happening in 1938 in this country, and the question was: Are we going to loan money to some commercial operation that can be used by the regime in Hamburg, Germany, for example? We would be scandalized by it.

We need to recognize with a sense of clarity where we are in history.

We ought not to be complicit with this. This House can make a great deal of difference in the future of this fight.

Mr. Chair, I urge the passage of this amendment, the adoption of it, and I yield back the balance of my time.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT


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