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Hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee - Advancing U.S. Interests Abroad: The FY 2015 Foreign Affairs Budget.


Location: Washington, DC

"Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman. Welcome back, Mr. Secretary.

It is disappointing that in your submitted written statement for today's hearing, you failed to mention the ongoing, over one month long crisis in Venezuela. The Administration is condemning Maduro's use of force against the peaceful protesters in Venezuela, but voicing a concern is not enough.

One of the opposition leaders, Leopoldo Lopez, was unjustly arrested and has been imprisoned, isolated in a military jail now for 24 days as Maduro attempts to silence dissent in Venezuela. Three more people died yesterday as a result of Maduro's violent suppression, bringing the sad tally to two dozen dead since protests began.

The President issued an executive order that would impose sanctions against Russian officials responsible for human rights abuses, and I've written to the President asking that he do the same for Venezuela.

Maduro continues to get help from the Castro regime -- as you know there've been sending Cuban troops to crackdown on the Venezuelan protesters. Will the President hold these violators in Venezuela responsible and sanction individual human rights abusers in Venezuela?

And continuing with the theme of accountability, Mr. Secretary: I have doubts that accountability and oversight over the Palestinian Authority finances are actually taking place.

As Ranking Member Engel just stated, Abu Mazen repeatedly reaffirms his refusal and unwillingness to recognize Israel as a "Jewish State," he continues to pay -- nearly $50 million dollars a year now -- the salaries of Palestinians who were imprisoned in Israeli jails, many of whom have blood on their hands. In fact, just yesterday, as you know, dozens of rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza. So this serves as a grim reminder that Israel continues to be under attack.

And in the West Bank, hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars continue to flow to the PA -- wishing and hoping and praying that they do they'll do the right thing. What are you doing to ensure that the PA recognizes and accepts Israel as a Jewish State? Money is fungible, so one could say that U.S. taxpayer dollars are being used to pay the salaries of these terrorists -- would you say that that is true?

The Administration is still seeking a waiver authority to fund agencies at the United Nations that admit a non-existent Palestinian State. Abu Mazen has repeatedly reaffirmed that, if the peace process fails to produce an agreement, the Palestinians will make a full out push at the UN to get statehood.

You said that withholding our money won't deter Abu Mazen, but I say that it very clearly could deter UN agencies so we cannot allow this waiver authority to undermine the peace process.

And in addition, I would like to submit, lastly for the record, a letter to President Obama requesting that the Administration consider giving those at Camp Liberty in Iraq the opportunity to receive political refugee status, for those who are eligible. So: Sanction, Abu Mazen, UN agencies.

Thank you, Mr. Secretary."

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