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Public Statements

Legislative Program

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. CANTOR. Mr. Speaker, I rise for the purpose of inquiring about next week's schedule, and I yield to the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. Hoyer), the majority leader, for the purpose of announcing next week's schedule.

Mr. HOYER. I thank the Republican whip for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, on Monday the House will meet at 4 p.m. for pro forma session. On Tuesday, the House will meet at 12:30 p.m. for morning-hour debate and 2 p.m. for legislative business. On Wednesday and Thursday, the House will meet at 10 a.m. for legislative business. On Friday, the House will meet at 9 a.m. for legislative business.

We will consider several bills under suspension of the rules. The complete list of suspension bills will be announced by the close of business tomorrow, as is the custom.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, we will consider H.R. 3548, the Unemployment Compensation Act of 2009; H.R. 324, the Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area Act; and a resolution which will make continuing appropriations for the fiscal year 2010, and for other purposes.

I yield back.

Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman.

Mr. Speaker, as the gentleman indicated, we will be considering several extensions of expiring law next week. I would like to ask, though, with the recent reports of the Senate Finance Committee marking up their health care bill, whether the gentleman could tell us if the House could expect that health care legislation would be moving to the floor either next week or sometime soon.

I yield.

Mr. HOYER. Well, I hope sometime soon, but not next week. That is certainly the case. We will be moving the health care bill as soon as it is ready to be moved. Obviously, as you say, the Senate put a bill on the table. It will be marking that up next week. But our committees are working on bringing three bills that have passed out of committees together. As soon as they are ready to go, and I can't predict when that will be, we will bring the bill to the floor. But I reiterate, it is not going to be next week.

Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman.

I would like to ask the follow-up, Mr. Speaker, whether the gentleman believes the House will be waiting for the Senate to act prior to a bill coming to the floor of this House.

I yield.

Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

No, the House will be, as I said, moving the bill to the floor when the House is ready to do so. We don't know what the Senate schedule will be so we are going to proceed on our own schedule. And then obviously at some point in time the bills will have to be conferenced and reconciled.

Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to turn to the question next week surrounding the House's actions regarding issues confronting the assembly of the United Nations in New York next week.

Mr. Speaker, as the gentleman knows, and he and I both traveled to Israel over the August recess, I know that the gentleman is as concerned as I am about the potential nuclear developments in Iran and the fact, I believe, that both of us feel that Iran poses an existential threat not only to the United States but also to our democratic ally, Israel.

There were some reports today regarding some shifting of that notion, the policy behind that notion, from the administration. We had the Vice President today indicate that somehow because Iran did not have the potential capacity to launch a missile to reach our shores, that somehow we could deal with the threat of Iran. We also have news that indicates a shift in our policy of missile defense in terms of our commitment to our allies in Europe as well as Israel.

Again I would say, Mr. Speaker, the gentleman and I have both worked hard on the issue of trying to stop the development of nuclear weapons in Iran specifically aimed at our only democratic ally, Israel, in the region. I have believed all along and I have spoken to the gentleman about it, that we ought to be moving as quickly as possible on the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act. I would like to ask the gentleman, with all that having been said, Would it not be appropriate at this point to bring that bill to the floor to give the President some tools at his disposal while he meets with the leader of Iran in New York next week?

I yield.

Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

As the gentleman correctly pointed out, I believe that a nuclear-armed Iran is dangerous and unacceptable,

not only to Israel but to the region which I think will be greatly destabilized and which will start a nuclear arms race in the region.

In addition, as the gentleman knows, there are a quarter of a million Americans right now today as we speak within range of Iranian missiles. So I believe a nuclear-armed Iran, personally I believe it is in fact a danger to the region and to the international community and to the interests of the United States of America.

It is the policy of the United States, expressed by our President, that a nuclear-armed Iran was not an acceptable situation to exist. The administration, as you know, is pursuing attempts to negotiate to an end that there is an abandonment which is verified of Iran's nuclear efforts.

With respect to the bills, there are two bills as the gentleman knows. Chairman Frank has a bill in his committee, an Iran sanctions enabling act, and Chairman Berman has a bill in his committee on the Iran refined petroleum sanctions act. I will tell the gentleman that I am meeting with Mr. Berman and Mr. Frank early next week to discuss the bringing of those bills and the order we ought to bring them to have maximum impact, and I expect to do that in the near future. When I say ``near future,'' I mean within a matter of weeks. It will not be next week, but whether it is the week after or the week after that. But my expectation is, after talking with Mr. Frank and Mr. Berman, we will be bringing those two sanctions bills to the floor in the near future.

Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman.

My concern lies in the fact of the reports out of the administration today, and perhaps new intelligence information is being relied upon to result in a swift turnaround in our policy vis-a-vis Iran which is why I raised this question and seek from the gentleman his consistent position that has been up until now that we do face a threat in Iran in its current capacity.

As the gentleman states, we have uniformed armed men and women in Insirlik, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, throughout the region that certainly are in the line of Shahab-3 missiles that could do serious harm to American life and interests. I think out of that concern, I ask the gentleman could we see an expedited push on this bill to demonstrate that this Congress, this House, is not yielding to this notion that somehow Iran is no longer a threat?

I yield.

Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Now to this concept, I don't want anybody to be confused. I am not sure exactly what the gentleman is saying, I heard him talking about it, the administration position, as far as I know, has not changed with respect to the concept of which the gentleman speaks.

A nuclear-armed Iran, I believe the administration and I believe this Congress, believes is an unacceptable undermining both of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, but also of the stability of a very unstable region of the world. I want to reiterate that I think that remains the position of the administration. It is certainly my position, and I believe it is the position of the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee and the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and I think of this Congress.

Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman. I think I am to take heart in that position because I do know that the administration today had downgraded its alarm, if you will, downgraded the threat that Iran poses.

I yield.

Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

I am not sure exactly what he is referring to other than the perception of how quickly the Iranians may convert to nuclear capability their present capacity, whether there is a longer time than that. But I have not had direct communication with the administration on that issue. I don't want to speak for the administration, but I think what I have already said to this point does in fact reflect certainly all of the communications I have had with the administration to date.

Mr. CANTOR. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for his time.


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