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Sportsmen's Act of 2012--Motion to Proceed--Continued

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. KERRY. I ask the Senator this question. We all understand the normal rules of the Senate. This is a big policy, cutting off four countries' aid with a set of circumstances that is so rigid it may encompass countries such as Israel and others. The normal rules of comity are that something such as this would go through the appropriate committee. That is why we have committees.

The Senator from South Carolina is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. This has never been to the Foreign Relations Committee. Does the Senator believe some policy as important as this doesn't deserve a hearing, doesn't deserve a process? I think the Senator knows that as the chairman I have never slowed down a process of our committee. The normal rules of comity ought to require this to go through the committee.


Mr. KERRY. I will just take 1 minute before I yield back. With respect to the question, first of all--I obviously do not run the Senate so I cannot speak about what happened with respect to these other pieces of legislation, but I am responsible for the Foreign Relations Committee. This particular amendment was filed at the desk on September 19. We are here under rule XIV. That is not months of work. The first time I heard of it was when it came to the desk. So this could well have been a policy we amended in the committee, that we worked on appropriately, came up with some appropriate way of dealing with legitimate issues.

I am not denigrating the legitimacy of some of the issues the Senator from Kentucky raises. We had a very profound conversation with the Foreign Minister of Pakistan the other day. The Foreign Relations Committee met with her. We went into Dr. Afridi's situation in some detail, and there are other issues raised here. But just to come in out of the whole blue and file it at the desk and say let's change years of policy with a country that we, in the case of Egypt, desperately rely on with respect to the peace process in the Middle East, sustaining the peace agreement with Israel--it just defies rationale about how you make good foreign policy.

I will have more to say about it in a moment, but I just want to make it clear this did not come to the floor until September 19 at the desk and it is here under rule XIV.


Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, let me say quickly to the Senator from Kentucky, whom I asked the other day whether he has ever been to Pakistan or Egypt--I think if he had, he would know something more about the millions of people in those countries who aspire to democracy and who have invested in our values and are trying to have a different future.

I particularly--``resent'' is not a particularly attractive word, but to hear him say that the Foreign Relations Committee has done nothing on Dr. Afridi does a disservice to the efforts we have been making in what is called a quiet and thoughtful diplomacy. Not all diplomacy is conducted by passing a fly-by-night amendment on the floor of the Senate, pretending that is going to improve relations or change the world. When we sit down with people and talk through problems, we can work out a resolution.

We had a long conversation just a day ago with the Foreign Minister of Pakistan about Dr. Afridi. That was not the first conversation. For months some of us have been talking with Pakistan about how we resolve this issue, which does, incidentally, have something to do with the law of another country, the politics of another country, and the political demands and needs of another country. It is not always the best way to resolve those things simply by racing to the floor of the Senate and saying: Here, do what we tell you. I am afraid that is not always how it works.

So I think the Senator from Kentucky has a lot to learn about how we get things done within the international community.

I yield 3 minutes to the Senator from Arizona.


Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I yield such time as I may use. I will be happy to have the Senator speak last if that is what he wants to do.

We have heard today from 110 retired generals and admirals that the suspension of U.S. aid is not in America's interest and that assistance is a critical component of America's national security strategy.

We have heard from Jewish Americans about the impacts this bill would have on our relationship with Israel at what they have called ``a time of turmoil and uncertainty,'' and ``the U.S. government needs to be able to use all available tools to influence events in the region.''

It would affect Israel's security if the United States were to suddenly pull out its assistance and change its relationship with Yemen and particularly change its relationship with Egypt.

I have heard from the State Department, which said this legislation ``will weaken democracies'' and ``play into the hands of extremists.''

With respect to Libya, Senator McCain has just spoken eloquently about Chris Stevens. He knew Chris Stevens. We knew him on our committee. He worked for Senator Lugar, and we knew him as a Pearson fellow. There was no more dedicated person. We just confirmed him and sent him over this May. I guarantee that the last thing he would want is his death being used as an excuse for the United States to cut off Libya and to disengage.

The 30,000 people who marched today marched for America. They marched for themselves. They marched for democracy. They marched for what Chris Stevens was investing in. I don't think we want to punish those people and that government because of what happened.

With respect to Egypt, the United States derives extraordinarily important security benefits from that relationship. Shutting down American military assistance to Egypt would jeopardize our nonproliferation initiatives. It would undermine efforts to stop the smuggling of weapons and interdicting of arms into Gaza, which affects the security of Israel. It would undermine the 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. Those of us who have traveled to Israel in recent months have heard concern from Israeli officials about the prospects of suspension of American military assistance to Egypt. They have already talked about it. They are nervous about it, and they think it would have a profound negative impact on their security and Israel.

These are the connections the Paul legislation just doesn't face up to. Senator Paul's legislation would essentially shut down our ability to work with the new civilian government. And while we are working to build the same kind of alliance with them we have had previously, it would really interrupt that and say to them that the United States of America is not interested in having that kind of an alliance.

With respect to Pakistan, the reality is the United States has vital national security interests in Pakistan, all of which are at stake. They have a population of 190 million people, a troubled economy, pockets of extremism, and a robust nuclear arsenal. We can't turn our backs on any of that, and I think we need to remember that our aid plays a critical role in supporting our interests and our values.

The Paul amendment would make us less secure, and it is in no one's interest.

Whatever time we have, I reserve the remainder.


Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, for such time as I have left, let me make it clear: The Paul legislation requires all identifiable persons associated with organizing, planning, participating in the attacks, trespass, breach, or attempted attack, have been identified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, or other United States law enforcement entity, and are in United States custody. We are talking about other countries. That is an absolutely impossible-to-fulfill requirement and that is why it would result in the cutoff of aid automatically, and that is why it is dangerous.


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