tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN October 2, 2015 4:00am-6:01am EDT
if you look at what the e.u. is doing, it is a crisis. and in some cases it is a crisis because of fails policies of the united states trying to stablize t. now mr. carey said we are going to increase the number of efugees to 75,000. then a couple weeks later, he said that many go as high as 100,000. he was more or less setting a floor for the syrians in particular. we know this is a larger number, somewhere between 85,000 and 100,000. i'm trying to get the math to ork.
i don't think any of you are being told your resources are going to increase when you have more refugees. so at the most fundamental level, i'm trying to figure out how you absorb this within the current rate of funding that you have without something giving. one of those things that may give could be the very important thing that we all have an obligation to ensure, and that is the safety and security of the homeland. there is going to be handoff between the various agencies. how do we make sure with this increased pressure that we don't make a mistake that could put our homeland at risk. and i will start with maybe homeland security? >> i was going to start with numbers, because that's perhaps the easier part of the question. just to be clear, our goal, the
target, the ceiling is 85,000. within that 85,000 we are striving to admit 10,000 syrians. that is not a cap. have, y question i secretary carey said, it is a ceiling. it is not a ceiling, it is a floor. that suggests to me language that could mean more people over time. >> the president signed a bill for 85,000. i think if that were to be raised, that would need to be re-signed at a higher number. the higher number refers to the aspiration too do 100,000 refugees in fy-2017. we know it will take more to ring in 85,000 refugees. we are looking across our programs to see where we can gain efficiencies. i can guarantee you there will
e no short cuts on processing. at this moment in time, there will be no shortcuts in terms of our responsibilities to the american people. strack: essions: ms. ms. strack: for operational purposes i had anticipated an increase from 70,000 to 75,000. you are probably aware that we uscis are a feep funded agency. the money that supports my program are paid by applicants for other immigration benefits. so everyone who applies for a green card or natural zation piece of that fee supports the refugee and asylum fee.
having spoken to our office at hief financial officer, he has informes us there is sufficient funding in our examination fee account to cover the 85,000 anticipated admissions into reprioritizing programs. as mr. bart let said, in no way are we cutting any corners, are we changing this security checks or cutting back on the elements that we think are integral to he integrity of the program. >> i would like to echo what mr. bartlett and ms. strack had said, we will not cut corners. these parameters were put
together with the intelligence community partners and the security regime was set up with that all input, and i have heard no discussion of making any cuts o it for any reason. i would like to point out that the grants of refugee status are discretionary so if they doubt, the case is referred for further review, and if there is a national security review, that individual's application is denied. >> as the refugee situation continues to evolve, the administration is assessing its capacity and resource needs for fiscal year 2016 with an increased number of refugees it will be important to fund this out at a sufficient level.
>> if i may relate it to accountability. i understand you are working with the decisions that have been made. but it seems to me if we went from 75,000 to 85,000 in a couple weeks, given the growing crisis where people's lives are at stake, it is going to go up again. we cannot only answer this in terms of the commitment we made but in the likely commitment we will make going forward. i share some of the chair's concerns about the growing government. more than anything else, i have had to have a sad discussion about an immigration decision that led to a young man that murdered people in my city of charlotte because the handoff wasn't done properly. it was someone granted status. it was not specific to this, but it speaks to the various agencies working together, using
the data effectively. in this case, it refers to the geaths of people that live in my city. i would like to know as you all move forward, you are passing the baton in many cases, who ultimately owns the responsibility, as we process 85,000 or 125,000, what agency, or who ultimately owns the responsibility and we have to come back and there is a lapse? mr. chair, that's my final question. thank you for your indulgence. ms. strack: that responsibility falls to -- we approve that. we would not approve that if we have derogatory information on that application. as mr. emrich mentioned, we have discretion so we can deny a case when we feel that's appropriate
even if there is not a interrogatory security check but there is information that we think makes that individual not a good candidate to come to the united states. there is another check when the applicant comes to the airport. >> senator, if i could say one thing, this program is certainly not linear. we have been planning for some he 5000 and now we have 85,000 so we will be building the program so that arrivals will be peaking at the end of the year. we will have an opportunity to review how we do this to make it more a session and be more effective than it is now. you make a very valid point. 100,000,-- if we go to the next year as proposed,
secretary kerry, our formal -- former colleague, i am told that in consulting with the judiciary committee last week, that it will be substantially increased over 80,000. this is not the bottom number. the problems we are facing from security is here now. this is not a scare tactic. i'm reading a minneapolis paper, interviewing a coach with a lot of kids playing ball, the coach is known as ishmael. he says there are monsters out there and he goes on to say that more than 20 young men left the sum i'll he immigrant community from 2007 22009. 9. to 200 disappearances began again in the past year to the islamic
andes fighting in iraq syria. i'm just saying that we know this is serious. you do not have the ability to do efficient checks. thank you for being with us and for giving me this moment to make that point. you really appreciate calling this hearing mr. chairman. i know that congress has a responsibility and the president does as well that we reviewed this every year. i was chagrined to learn that we have not done this since 1979. i just have a couple quick questions. we have a perfect case study in iraq where there were systemic problems in the screening of iraqi refugees -- refugee applicants here. the fbient hearing, assistant director told the house homeland security that -- the administration has learned
the problems it had with the iraqi refugee admissions effort. and you tell us what sick -- what specific measures have been taken to remedy these problems and what we have learned from that exercise that we can apply here? let me briefly let me briefly the nature of the checks we do now and how they have changed. the checks are multilayer. both biographic information and not just one data element but multiple biographic elements and fingerprints, therefore biometric data.
the checks are not just at one time. they are done over a. -- over a period of time and in some cases continuously throughout the process. they touch against a broad range of u.s. government holdings. checkngerprint checks against the of fbi fingerprint holding. the checks against the dod fingerprint holdings which include bigger prints that have been obtained overseas. it also checks against the dhs fingerprint system which contains records of any time the u.s. border, their fingerprints are captured and that goes to the dhs system. >> may i interrupt you? interact, we also had background checks and we talked to people on the ground in iraq when we had a lot of troops on the ground. have that in syria.
is that not going to create a tremendous shortfall in addition to the technical checks you are talking about? mr. emrich: we have added a specific inter-agency check were ine time that we iraq and we can brief you on that in detail in another setting. an additional think that we have done for this population is the enhanced review that i described. contactvidual comes in with unhcr coming he provides his story and at that time, all of his family members and the is registered as well as their family members. that individual is interviewed again at the rsc. so at the time that our folks are reviewing the application, they have already been talked to
twice. they have had a very good incentive to provide accurate information to the unhcr. if that registration -- that is how they get food rations and housing. discount the to importance of the interview because this is a face to face encounter where the refugee officers have been specially trained in the country conditions. they know what questions to ask. they know what questions to ask an individual leaving syria and about military service and about possible bars. there -- if they are a national security concern. we have individuals with a lot of expertise who can inform
questions there. >> i need to go on to this last question. i apologize mr. bartlett but i want to get back to one thing. that is the definition of a refugee. if someone leaves syria, and we know there is a major humanitarian crisis there. we have been talking in the senate about the causes of that. but what i would like to do now -- if they leave syria and they go to turkey for a year and then apply to the u.s. are they bite definition -- they by definition considered a refugee? d i think i need to work -- for two dhs because they make the final definition. ms. strack: the definition is u.n.ined in the definition. if they have suffered
persecution or have a well-founded fear of suffering persecution on the basis of race, religion, or being a specific member of a group. laws a bar under u.s. against resettlement if they have been resettled in another country. there is another -- there is quite a bit of law surrounding being settled in another country. example, if your children cannot go to school or if you are in a tenuous circumstance, that would amount to not being firmly settled. it is a fact specific circumstance. a short way of thinking about it -- that starts looking like firm resettlement. anwould investigate that on individual basis and look at what the laws are in the country of first asylum. applications, how
many are excepted versus rejected? ms. strack: worldwide, our average approval rate is 80%. right now, it is higher than but are syrian applicants it is likely to come down. right now, it is running a little over 90% for syrian applicants. that percentage is based on all of the cases that have been decided yes or no. it does not include cases under review or on hold. we think a number of the on hold cases will turn into denials. when we have a little more experience with the caseload, we expect the percentage to come down a little bit. >> thank you. this is very important. i read in my opening statement what the europeans were finding where you have a nicely dressed iranian speaking farsi saying he is from iraq.
indians who do not speak arabic that say they are from damascus. tunisians, albanians, -- who are apparently trying to get in as syrian refugees. 90% ofnow approving those who apply. here in the washington post --icle it goes on to say there was one story where there are shady characters in the group also including admitted sympathizers,s one person with a fresh bullet wound who when asked his occupation seemed confused. one said army, the other responded drivers. there are other reports of a syrian passport being available for purchase.
you face a difficult problem. the former head of the association of the cia as officers has told us that the agency has become a rubber stamp. there is no way they have the ability to do what is asked of them. that youu have said have not changed any of your procedures that the procedures are just not going to do the job. let us talk about that. honestly. the director of national intelligence mr. klapper recently stated that we do not put it past the likes of isil to infiltrate operatives among these refugees. he further stated that it is a huge concern of ours. --do you he is correct
think he is correct? i guess i would like to talk to about what our process is. >> i am just asking if you are concerned. he said that we do note it -- we do not put it past isil to infiltrate the refugees. you are supposed to be evaluating these people. is it a concern to you? ms. strack: yes sir. and that is what the background is, that is the relationship we have with the intelligence community. they share information with us about what they see as risks. we have been describing to you the methods and procedures that we had to try to mitigate those risks. the i speak briefly to the may i speaksue -- briefly to the document issue? we think there is a dip -- we are not working in europe.
not resettling refugee applications out of europe. primarily turkey and jordan. the incentive for other nationalities, for non-syrians, is different in those countries of first asylum. the second piece is that i did want to say that we do not rely on any single document. in general, worldwide, we see a difference between syrian refugees. some are highly documented. others are not. we think documents are informative. we look at them. but no single document is taken as a gold ticket for refugee approval. >> i am sure that is true. we are also told that european officials said not long ago that a million are in north africa waiting to cross the made -- the mediterranean. there are a lot of people who would like to become a refugee
to the united states or europe. them.ve to sort through what if they do not have any documents? what you refer to then? in general, we have found with syrian refugees, and the same with iraqi refugees, they have many documents. that includescess our training. we involve the law enforcement community, the intelligence community, and we invite them to come in to train our refugee officers. if someone does not have documents, for example, they might tell us that their documents were destroyed when a bout -- when a barrel bomb fell on their house. we will check with the intelligence community or open source information to find out if that was realistic. place athappen at that that time. we have a multifaceted approach to this. we have reduced the number of
interviews that we ask our officers to do of syrian cases because we recognized that they are so complex and we want the officers to be able to explore all of that information, often researchby the upfront that has been described. try to dodication to right with the abilities that 2011,ve, but in february over the house committee of homeland security, the fbi assistant director michael steinbach expressed significant syrians with screening refugees. i do not see how this could be denied. i don't see how it can be glossed over. in syria- that concern is that we do not have systems in place on the ground to collect information to that -- to vet. the concern would be that we are vetting database is that do not
hold information on those individuals and that is a concern. he went on to say that you are talking about a country that is a failed date. it does not have any infrastructure. , thef the data sets police, the intel services that normally you would go to to seek information do not exist. systems -- is that your responsibility? do you serve -- supervise that? mr. emrich: i do. >> if there is no database to query, how can you have valid information? mr. emrich: there is data that we check against and we would be happy to describe this to you in a different setting. you just tell us under both. you are a public official. do you think there is adequate data, when you query these databases, are you likely to have any valuable information from them? tell you thatwill
we often find valuable information and that we check every single thing that is available. >> i am sure you check everything available. mr. steinback is making a plain fact. there is no real databases in syria to check. isn't that right? every thingwe check within u.s.aware of government holdings. we are either inquiring about, or looking into and we currently check. as far as i am concerned, if we have not overturned every stone, we are in the process of overturning every stone. >> there you go again. overturning everything you can overturned. i do not doubt that. and american police officer checks the crime information
center when they arrest someone. you do not have a crime information center. they do not have a computer database that you can access. isn't mr. steinback telling the truth? do you disagree what i read from him on the things that you would normally check just do not exist. mr. emrich: i would point out that in many countries of the we haveom which traditionally accepted refugees over the years, the united states government did not have extensive data holdings. >> all right. mr. franken, i am sorry to run over. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
in prior years come we have admitted far more refugees and we currently do. about0, we admitted 200,000 refugees. in the early 1990's, we admitted over 100,000 per year. last year, in the midst of the humanitarian crisis, we admitted fewer then 70,000. it seems to me, that the numbers we are bringing in today are pretty modest i comparison. ourlso seems to me that past experiences have demonstrated that we can resettle refugees in a manner that is consistent with our national security. from our pastaw experiences in admitting refugees and can you describe the measures in place to ensure
that those admitted to the united dates will contribute positively to our society? senator, i think there may be several of us on the panel that would like to speak your question. i think it is important to remember in the immediate aftermath of the september 11 attacks, there was a pause in refugee resettlement and it was a desire to make sure that the best screening available was in place. in the wake of that situation. for two years, the united states refugee resettlement program had very low numbers. those of us who work in this field for a living consider disappointingly low numbers but it was necessary at the time to make sure that those appropriate safeguards were in place. having those safeguards in place, we have worked very diligently on an interagency
basis and again with strong relationships with law enforcement, national security, and the intelligence community, so we are able to have the program grow in a way that we think is responsible, has integrity, and is consistent with our national security obligations. >> anyone else care to jump in on that? in addition to 9/11, with the correct response, and the obligation we owed to many of those iraqis that worked for us, we also layered on a new check. that was when a new check was developed with two agencies. it impacted our arrivals but we did that with a sense of responsibility to those we were bringing here as well as those we were bringing them to, our communities. i think you are correct that we have had larger programs in the past. infrastructuree
we work with now is a little more complicated. it intention is to grow this if thousand program to 100,000. beyond, we years will see but to do it in a way that is responsible to our communities. >> before i run out of time, i want to ask this question. which i think speaks to the in a hearing and subject different way. i am not sure if anyone has asked this. i went to a floor -- i went to the floor and gave a speech on something else. i think it bears repeating that approximately 4 million people have fled violence in syria and that is roughly 70% of the country's total population. percent of the
country's total population. families, any with children, are braving these treacherous journeys in order to escape persecution. up anr durbin brought individual and the picture that i do not think anyone who has seen it will ever forget. and like senator durbin, i have a grandson. that image reminded me very much of. do you mind if i go a few seconds over? you do? ok. i will do this as fast as i can. i never know when you are kidding. [laughter] i just want to know why he
got the louder laugh. [laughter] >> timing. [laughter] sober subjecth a -- many of our partners in the toare formulating a plan redistribute some 100 on -- some 120,000 among migrant states. the u.s., on the other hand has only accepted 1500. although the administration plans to expand the number two 10,000, i have joined with colleagues including senator durbin. , quite aned the letter
while ago, urging the administration to resettle 65,000 by the end of 2016. this is what i want to ask. i think these numbers are important in the context about the debate of national security. director bartlett, do you think that strong leadership from the united states on this issue will boost our standing in the region? and shouldn't we be concerned that a tepid response here lends credence to the kind of narrative that our enemies -- that our enemy been about the united states in their efforts to settle -- two so discord -- to sew discord? i would say our
leadership has been strong in the region. our footprint in the region initially was emergency response. he will have asked us before why we have been slow to resettle. we have not been the only once to resettle affirmatively. peoplee for the syrian and i think the hope of the international community is that people can go home and that is really all that any refugee wants. they want to go home to syria. only about two years ago, the unhcr as an situation said it has been too long, the countries that are hosting these refugees are bearing too much of responsibility and we need to help. the unhcr was very aggressive in setting a high benchmark for all of us. we joined early on. we did not announce a number. we said we are open for referrals. at the moment, we have 19,000.
we are going to continue to accept those so that although we have a 10,000 entrants goal for the next year, we are not limited by that goal and we will continue to accept referrals from unhcr as this tragedy continues. >> thank you. i would submit that i'm way over. submit thatement -- that is something to be thinking about. ms. strack: senator, if i could add very briefly. senator durbin mentioned in his opening remarks that we do have a long process in the u.s. program in order for someone to come into the program. our average passing time -- i don't think any of us are satisfied with those average processing times and i can tell you that i have very strong direction for my deputy secretary to look hard at the places where we can affect efficiencies without cutting corners in any way in order to see that we can be more efficient so that when those
referrals do come to us, we are able to process them effectively and efficiently as much as we possibly can. senator franken, i would note that in 2013, the united states -- issued when todred 17,000 green cards migrants of muslim countries including 70,000 to migrants from just middle eastern countries. we admitted 40,000 designated refugees. i think we have been generous. i just wanted to make that point. senator blumenthal. : i wantedumenthal o to thank senator franken for his athletic questions and comments. issueright that this
deserves the most sober treatment. i beg to differ, mr. bartlett, we may have stepped up more recently, that we have done far less than we should have in the region. having visited some of those , i think the united states could and should have done more and now can and should do more. not just because it improves our standing in the region, but it sense of self-worth as a nation. we are a nation of immigrants. many of those immigrants are refugees might my father who came to this country in 1935 to escape persecution in germany at the age of 17. he spoke virtually no english and had not much more than the shirt on his back. knowing almost no one. this country gave him a chance to succeed just as we well
countless other refugees in the future as we have done in the past with refugees of many other countries. the need for this program is as serious and urgent as ever because there is no shortage in ,he world of inhumane dictators territorial conflicts, environmental crises that contribute to the largest refugee crisis since world war ii. my view is that we need to improve and speed the screening techniques. the american people need to be satisfied about the efficacy and accuracy of those screening tests. i have proposed a number of performs, three in particular. expanding the p3 program which gives resettlement applicants with u.s. families the ability
to skip the referrals from the unhcr and apply directly to the resettlement support center. second, improving the timing and security of medical and security screenings to ensure that applicants or their entire families do not have their checks expire, forcing them to redo many of those screenings, when individual parts of the test expire while they're waiting for other parts to be completed. and third, keeping families updated about their status. frequently a large family's resettlement will be delayed because a single family member is waiting to be approved. those are common sense straightforward methods of reforming the screening process so that it takes weeks, not years to reach conclusion. and i think they are doable. they may require more resources.
where the u.s. congress should be involved. i will be sending a letter within a few days, detailing those proposals. is large audience here testimony to the importance of this subject. again, not just because of our standing or image in the world, but our self-image. our self-worth, our view of ourselves as a nation. my feeling is that the american people still believe that we are the nation of the statue of liberty. that we have arms open to people that want to come here for opportunity and freedom, and to escape persecution and harm a broad. -- harm abroad. mr. chairman, if there is no objection, i like to enter into the record some of the evidence of that widespread support. republicanom former
and democratic officials, including ambassadors robert ford and former bush administration robert wolfowitz, calling for the u.s. to accept 100,000 syrian refugees. a letter from 18 mayors, including chicago, mayor rahm emanuel, asking the obama administration to resettle syrian refugees in their cities because, according -- i'm quoting, "refugees make our communities stronger." thank you. question,ust ask a your permission i
am going beyond my time, mr. bartlett, and anyone else who wants to answer -- if the p3 program were expanded to settlement up when it's -- settlement applicants, with that have any negative impact on our national security? would you be willing to consider such an expansion? ms. strack: senator, that is something we would certainly take under advisement and discuss amongst ourselves. there have historically been some problems with the priority 3 program in terms of false claims of family relationships. you may be aware we suspended the program for a period of time until we were able to reintroduce integrity features. with a proposed expansion of the eligibility categories, we would want to think about it very carefully through that lens, based on that experience, to make sure that in expanding it
that we have the appropriate safeguards. mention, of your three points that you addressed earlier, i think on the second piece about improving the timing of security checks and addressing the issue of having an expire, that has traditionally been a challenge for all of us. but we do have some recent improvements. i think we could share with you and a brief your staff. we have introduced some automation just this past summer with the agencies that do the vetting. we believe that is going to address specifically through the institution of recurrent vetting, going to help us ameliorate that problem when security checks expire. i think we will have some positive news for you on that score. >> anyone else wants to address that question? some changesat have been admitted.
-- have been implemented. i would be interested not only in your planes, but evidence that they are in fact having an effect. the credibility of the entire refugee resettlement program hinges on effective screening and one of the principal measures of effectiveness is timeliness. can, in effect, be self-fulfilling expectations when those tests for screenings expire. and they should expire after a period of time. but we need to be done more expeditiously. i think the chairman for his patients -- i thank the chairman for his patience. i have a lot more questions that i will submit for the record. thank you. >> i thank you panel. i would like to walk through
some of the details on how you do your work. as presently constructed, i don't believe were able to do what you are suggesting today. and the costs are much greater than you suggest, mr. kerry, in your statement. we have billions of dollars in incurred from the programs that refugees are entitled to receive. while we had 18 democratic mayors asking president obama to send more syrian refugees to their cities, homelessness in the u.s. has doubled since the last recession. we have a financial crisis too. every new dollar spent on these refugees will essentially be borrowed. because it's near expenditure, and we don't have new revenue to pay for it. the mayor of new york, mayor deblasio called on more
refugees, but originally said this was a european problem. i don't think the europeans help us with the central american problem. we have countries like brazil and argentina, that are taking any refugees. -- that aren't taking any refugees. new york city hall announced they would spend $1 billion more on the next four years focusing on homelessness in new york. somebody needs to be talking about the american people. what we want to do. we want to help. we are helping. we are doing more financially than any other country in the world to help deal with this christ -- crisis. i don't accept the idea that we are not doing our fair share. and europe should be picking up the largest share of the problem, frankly. i don't see it there. a good policy is that people should be stay as close to home
as possible. our overriding policy goal should be to create stability in syria and libya and yemen and iraq so people can go home. we have allowed that to get away from us. we can criticize our policymakers were allowing this dangerous humanitarian disaster to occur. i would say, i think we have to ask those questions and about who we are going to serve in whose interests we are trying to serve. mr. emrich, can you name a single computer database outside very small but significantly valuable intelligence databases for syria that you run a check against?
does syria have any that you can access? emrich: the government of syria does not, no sir. sen. session: they are the ones that keep records. we keep them in the u.s., those who are arrested and so forth. but you don't have access to any , if they exist in syria? emrich: as ms. strack mentioned, in most cases these individuals do have documents from syria. ways ofve various identifying those documents, as she described, our officers are trained in fraud detection. we would be happy to brief you in another setting-- sen. session: i'm asking you to
talk to the american people. the american people are asking you a question. i read what the fbi director said. he said there is no database. he suggests there is no way that they can get sufficient for a substantial majority of these persons. aren't you left to looking at whatever documents they produce, and conducting an interview? can assure the american people that we have a robust series of screening the widethat encompass range of u.s. government resources that involve u.s. law enforcement agencies and intelligence community members, that these processes and these screening members are constantly reviewed. that we are continuously looking at ways to improve these. that they incorporate both biometric and biographic checks. they incorporate an in-depth
interview with a trained u.s. government officer. they involve an additional interview, inspection rather, when a person presents himself or herself at the u.s. port of entry. may--rack: senator, if i sen. session: let me just say this. i have been in law enforcement 15 years. i know how the national crime information center works. i know how you run back on checks. -- ground checks. there's no way you can do back on checks of any significant. i'm sure we have some intelligent data on a number of people throughout the region. if you get a hat on that, i am sure you would reject this. but you have only a miniscule number of people that have been identified, i'm sure, in that fashion. i don't believe you can tell us with any certainty that you have an ability to conduct an efficient background check.
lets say you have no information. lets say there's a question -- do you have any ability to send an investigator to iraq to check if the person actually lived on this street, actually had the job he claims to have had? ms. strack: sir, if i may-- sen. session: i was talking to mr. emrich. emrich: we do not have the ability to send an investigator to syria. we have resources to verify various elements of testimony and story. sen. session: well i'm sure there are things you could do. but you're telling us you can do that for a majority of the people that you interviewed? for a have the ability majority of the people you interview to have independent data of value to help identify them? mr. emrich: in many cases we are able to find independent data. sen. session: in many cases, i
asked a majority. mr. emrich: i cannot quantify. sen. session: 20% or 80%? can you tell us? is it less than 20 or more than 80? mr. emrich: i can't give you a number. is, yousion: the reason don't have the ability. i wish you did, but you don't. ms. strack? ms. strack: mr. emrich cover the point i was going to cover, sir. >> mr. chair, if i could. appoint you made on a -- a point you made on the u.s. response abilities versus those of other countries in the world. i know you mentioned brazil is not taking refugees. i wanted to set the record straight that brazil,, in fact has stepped up quite large in terms of the syrian crisis. they have done 80 military and visa program -- a humanitarian
visa program and allowed syrians to come to brazil. not technically as rapidly's, but from the -- not technically as refugees. there are 30 countries involved in resettlement of syrians. you are right, europe is taking people because people are moving across land borders. but there are countries like new zealand, australia, and canada also playing a significant role. thank you. sen. session: according to the information on, the u.s. is six times more migrants than all of latin american countries combined. do you dispute that? mr. bartlett: i'm only talking about refugees at this point, sir. i also see numbers that indicate -- how long ago was that, that they agreed to step up? mr. bartlett: it's been within the last year. they have done quite a lot. sen. session: we have done a lot for a long time.
we are very generous and i think the world leader. we are proud of that and want to be a great country for handling refugees. i just believe we need to understand the reality. how much it's going to cost and the danger of admitting those threat to the united states. ms. strack, there was a number examples of people who have involve themselves in terrorism since they have been in the u.s. theyimes when they come, may not be radicalized, but somehow someway become radicalized. there is no way you can identify that, i don't suppose. sir, we can't predict the future. sen. session: so we know the
boston bombers came as refugees. ms. strack: they did not, sir. sen. session: how did they come? ms. strack: i will have to check with my colleagues, but they were not refugees. sen. session: were the parents refugees? ms. strack: i would need to check with other colleagues. sen. session: we have a bosnian refugee along with wife and relatives charged with donating money, supplies, and smuggled arms to terrorist organizations in syria and iraq. i don't think that is in dispute. amongand his wife were six living in minnesota, illinois, and new york who were charged last week conspiring to provide material support to groups that we consider terrorist organizations. and who's back refugee living in idaho was threatened -- an uzbek refugee was teaching terror recruits how to build a bomb.
somali americans in minnesota were charged, seven were charged with trying to join isis. it's not an easy job. there is always risk. we want to be sure you are fully equipped and able to do the best job we can. i think we should be careful as we go forward and always try to protect the national safety, as you indicate. can any of you tell me how many people have been given refugee status since 2001? how many of them have been identified affiliated with terrorism? well, we have a lot of public records on them. i certainly don't have the full
number, that is for sure. there are a lot of things you can spend those fees on. if you use fees to expand dramatically the number of refugees from syria or other places in the middle east, that does tend to drain the money, does it not, ms. strack, that you would otherwise have for other needs of your agency? ms. strack: yes sir. in order to reprioritize funding, that will come out of other priorities. sen. session: following up on a prior question, mr. bartlett, if we go to 100,000, are you aware of how many of those over the 75,000 this year -- 25,000 more
-- how many of those would be and/or the thsyria region? mr. bartlett: we don't have a projection. what it would look like when we bring 100,000 in -- we traditionally respond to the humanitarian crisis of the time. so in the last five years, we have settled a number of burmese, bhutanese, iraqis. some of those who have worked for must, now increasingly syrians and congolese. we've had a big program built on the congolese coming out of the democratic republic of the congo who have been basically in asylum for many years. again, those will be the populations. they will shift according to peace, for example, existing, or conditions existing to return home. then those populations decline. one would predict that probably
syria and iraq would continue to be large. sen. session: secretary kerry indicated some sort of consultation, he told us the figure was 75,000 for next year, then 85 we have heard. he warned us in might be substantially more. 100,000 would certainly be a lot. well within what he suggested he might recommend. we don't get fees from those, do we? immigrant that has to pay fees to help subsidize these kinds of procedures. ms. strack: that is correct, sir, there is no fee to apply for refugee status. sen. session: the washington --st said that
mrs. tsarnaevand came as refugees, and brought to their children with them. ms. strack: i would need to check with my colleagues, sir. sen. session: what about parole programs? is that under the homeland security section? ms. strack: it actually is a shared responsibility with the dissolution of the former immigration nationality service into the immigration operational division at the departed of homeland security. customs and border protection have parole authority. sen. sessions: dhs is looking at
a case-by-case program for which is aor parole, program that has some difficulties. i'm not sure the kind of thing that ought to be done with regard to syria. but apparently it is being considered. is it still being considered, using a parole programs to deal with the syrian problem? uscisrack: sir, the received a letter signed by 70 members of congress asking the administration to consider what we have called the syrian reunification family program. at the time there was a model based on a cuban family reunification program. under the design of the cuban program, family members in the u.s. who are eligible to apply for green cards, form i130. they are eligible for that application and have approved
beneficiaries, but their family members were actually able to take advantage of that and come to the u.s. because of the limits on family-based immigration every year. the program in cuba was to take those people who were eligible for green cards and let them come to the u.s. and wait in lieu of waiting in cuba. the letter that we received recommended that the administration consider a similar sort of program. this would be a relative in the u.s. who would petition on behalf of of a close relative. if that beneficiary was a syrianm, the recommendation was we consider granting parole to that syrian beneficiary. time, thee, -- at the and ministration it made the decision not to do the program at that point in time. as the conditions have continued to deteriorate, and as we have had requests from other stakeholders to take another look at that, my leadership has
agreed they would take another look at that program. it doesn't mean the decision will change, but they have agreed to consider it. sen. sessions: you have a request, and i'm sure you should consider it. i think it's a problem weight -- problematic way to do business. we are increasing the number of refugees from syria. i think that is the appropriate weight to ultimately and directly deal with this. the parole system was never designed to be used in this fashion. with regard to resettlement, does not fall within your area? >> yes it does. sen. sessions: and general, i believe you had some sort of consultation with communities about a desire oto
resettle a number of people within your community. what is your policy on that, and can you assure us that any community will receive direct flow of refugees would be consulted before this happens? >> i will defer to my colleagues at the department of state who handle the admissions and placement part of the program. department haste irresponsible of the for the -- has a response ability for placement of refugees in the communities. the communities -- the responsibilities are longer-term in terms of immigration adjustment. again, we do consult very closely at the community level. put the responsibility on the partner in the community. -- 320 affiliates or so.
we require them to do consultation each quarter of the year. consultations include elected officials, city councils as well as mayor, it includes other people providing services, so schools, health clinics, other medical service providers, law enforcement, as well as volunteer groups that are supporting refugees. we want to talk with the broad community, not just the people who are involved exactly in the resettlement program. but also people who are affected by it. the consultation takes place quarterly. that consultation includes iraq is in the from the state government -- includes a representative from the state government. someone who has comedic edition with the governor's office. those consultations are fed back to the national headquarters and then to the state department. what i can assure you is, and i
was just in twin falls idaho two weeks ago, that we want to listen to every voice in the community. not everybody is a supporter of refugees. not everyone is a supporter of syria resettlement. we want all those voices to be taken into account and see how we can respond. overwhelmingly we find the majority of citizens appreciate the program and supported. we want to find a way to make that work for everybody. sen. sessions: very good. very majorng about a undertaking. a heritage foundation study has reported that 10,000 refugees of our lifetime will cost the u.s. dollars.4 billion
me, $6.5 billion for 10,000 people. because most of the people are going to struggle in lower incomes. there is a cost on that. then you go to 30,000. 70,000, 100,000. that a substantial cost. 100,000, overther 30 years, you have increased a very large number of people, statistically speaking. they will be drawing more benefits than they bring in. it puts stress on medicare, the food stamps program, and on social security. in medicare will pay into the program reasonably if they work. but like most people, they will pay in less than they take out. that is why those programs are on such a crisis path today. huge financial costs. then the difficulty of being
applicantseen the effectively. if you need more help, mr. emri ch or ms. strack, i hope you will ask for it. i think it's impossible, even with more staff, to get the information. were not going to be able, as some people might think, to go out to the i believe the american people are generous and kind and decent and a one a contribute to helping solve this crisis. we are, in a significant degree. we are entitled to have our officials protect our interest,
the people's interests. that is what i think we try to do today. i do not blame any of you for the difficult job you have but i do think we need to ask ourselves how much instability occurred in the well, we need to ask ourselves how we could more positively ashore that stability is returned during -- to that area of the world and to try to create a circumstance and financially help in a humanitarian way people that are really hurting. so, thank you for your service to your country. we appreciate that. open ford will stay one week and you are dismissed. thank you very much. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy.
it's an opportunity for students to think critically of issues of national importance by creating a five to seven minute documentary in which they can express those views. it's important because it gives them an opportunity and platform to have their voices heard. so they can express those views by creating a documentary.
we do get a wide range of entries. the most important aspect for every documentary that we get is going to be the content. we have had winners in the past created by just using a cell phone and we have others that are created using more high-tech equipment. but once again it's really the content that matters and shines through. the response from students in the past have been great. we have had many different issues that they have created videos on from education, the economy and the environment really showing a wide variety of issues that are important. >> having more water in the rir would have many positive impacts. consensus humans cannot run without food. >> prior to the individuals with disabilities education act or the idea, children were not given the opportunity of an
education. >> this year's theme is road to the white house. what's the most important issue you want the candidate to discuss. it is full on into the campaign season. there are many different candidates. one of the key requirements in creating documentary is to include some c-span footage. this footage should really complement and further their point of view and not just dominate the video but it is a great way to include more information that furthers their point. >> the first bill is the water resources reform and development act. >> we have all heard the jokes about school meals and certainly growing up fish sticks and mystery meat talk ost. >> there's a vital role that the federal government plays. it's especially vital for students with disabilities. >> students and teachers can go to the website. on that website they'll find
>> yesterday the u.s. house passed a combill that o would prohibit the lifting of sanctions against iran. republicans talked about iranian support for terrorism and threats made against israel. the gentleman from new york, mr. engel, each will control 30 minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from california, mr. royce. mr. royce: i ask unanimous consent that all members may have five legislative days to evise and extend their remarks for this measure. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, so ordered, the gentleman is recognized. mr. royce: i also ask unanimous consent to place into the record letters exchanged with the chairman of judiciary and
ways and means committee on this legislation. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, so ordered. the gentleman is recognized. mr. royce: madam speaker, the house is not in order. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is correct. the house is not in order. mr. royce: thank you, madam speaker. i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. royce: i rise in strong support of this bill. this is the justice for victims of iranian terrorism. and i appreciate the work of the bill's author, mr. meehan of pennsylvania. he's worked very hard on this. there are about 100 co-sponsors in this house. on the foreign affairs committee we have made iran the central focus of our work. as a matter of fact, we had over 30 hearings so far and briefings on iran and on the dangerous nuclear agreement that was struck with this state sponsor of terrorism. madam speaker, since coming to power in the late 1970's --
1979, the iranian regime has funded terrorist groups such as hezbollah and hamas and directed their operations. the way they do that is they have a special force, it's called the quds, it's headed up by general sole manny. he is in charge of assassinations outside the country. assassinations of u.s. targets, by the way, besides other targets. recently you will have heard of the general because by the way sanctions, european sanctions are going to be lifted on him under these -- this agreement, but you will have read or heard that he traveled, he traveled to moscow to meet with putin. as a result of those meetings, you'll notice the discussions about weapons coming from russia into syria, into the hands of the quds forces.
so we look at what he has done and what u.s. courts have done as a result. there have been 80 separate attacks on u.s. installations and u.s. individuals. we remember the 1983 bombing of the u.s. marine barracks in beirut. the 1996 bombing of the khobar towers in saudi arabia. those two attacks killed 260 american servicemen and left their widows and left children to be raised by one parent. -- here are judgments the speaker pro tempore: the house will be in order. mr. race: there are judgments that have been -- mr. royce: there are judgments that have been rendered that directs payment from iran to these families, to the victims' families. unfortunately, under the foreign sovereign immunities
act, even though this reward has been given, even though u.s. victims of state sponsored terrorism got their day in court, and even though they brought the suits in u.s. courts and had the right to collect these damages, iran has not, as of yet, paid. u.s. courts have held iran libal for the attacks carried out by its terrorist proxies when those attacks were orchestrated and paid for by the iranian regime. so, the judgments that remain utstanding is $43.5 billion in unpaid damages for those 80 cases over the last decade and a half. in one case, $9 billion was awarded to the victims of the bombing of the marine barracks in 1983. again, the government of iran found responsible through
lawful proceedings in a u.s. court, that judgment remains unpaid. mr. speaker, the obama administration during its negotiations with iran did not seek for iran to compensate the families of those whose lives were taken by iranian terrorism despite these u.s. court judgments. that is very much in contrast with our past procedure. in the case of libya, for example, a decade ago, when we reached that agreement with libya, the u.s. secured the right or the demand that the gaddafi regime compensate the victims of the attacks such as e bombing of pan am 103 over lockerbie, scotland, that was done. that's our procedure. iran will soon obtain $100 billion, approximately, in unfrozen assets.
as well as immeasurable economic and financial benefits by escaping the sanctions regime and reintegrating into the global economy. iran will get sanctions lifted and american victims will still be out in the cold. that's not right. so this legislation would address that injustice. it's straightforward. it would say that of the 100 some billion in sanctions relief that those judgments will be paid out of that. those -- that $43 billion will be paid to the survivors of those families of those 80 attacks orchestrated, paid for by iran. i reserve the balance of my time. thank you. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from new york is recognized. r. engel: mr. speaker, thank you. i rise in opposition to the bill and i yield myself as much time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. engel: thank you. let me start by acknowledging my friend, chairman royce. the committee on foreign
affairs is the most bipartisan committee in congress. we are collaborative. we are productive. and we built a record advancing bipartisan legislation that promotes america's interests abroad and keeps the american people safe. i want to state that chairman royce's leadership thanks for much of our committee's good work. i'm disappointed that house republican leadership decided to ignore regular order on this bill. they rushed it to the floor without any consideration by the foreign affairs committee. as was pointed out we had 30 hearings. we know a little bit about iran on the foreign affairs committee. so rushing it to the floor without any consideration by the foreign affairs committee is wrong. it's a shame. i think left to our own volition we could have sent forward a bill that could make a difference for the victims of iranian sponsored terrorism. iranian sponsored terrorism is there, palpable, and we should do something to try to help the victims. this bill, on the other hand, would not do that. let me explain why.
american courts have awarded roughly $46 billion to about 1,300 victims and their families. we all want justice for these families. we all want to hold iran accountable for its acts of terrorism against americans. iran should pay these claims. but this bill does nothing for the victims of iranian terror. and here's the problem. let's assume for argument that iran's leaders did change course and decide to pay the claims. this bill would actually make it more difficult for iran to pay these judgments. iran owes american claimants $46 billion, but iran has access to $20 billion of its cash reserves, not 46. the rest, $95 billion, is frozen in bank accounts in europe and asia. on top of that, iran's oil revenues are frozen. when iran sells oil, the payments are kept frozen under the threat of american sanctions, which i support. iran can access these funds only for certain purposes.
paying court judgments is not one of them. currently u.s. sanctions don't allow it. and under this bill, all u.s. sanctions are kept in effect, absolutely no change is allowed until iran pays the full $46 billion. so where would iran get the money to pay the american claims? the bill says iran pay the claims, but you can't have any of the funds to pay them. . sore it's a catch 22 and who does it hurt? not iran. it hurts the victims. not sangle claim would be paid under this bill. so in my opinion, this bill offers nothing but false hope. i heard some members say, we can pay the claims by seizing iran's frozen assets. that's not virtual the case. the funds frozen is overseas, not in the u.s. though they are frozen by u.s. sanctions, they are beyond the jurisdiction of our courts to seize them. another false promise, virtually all of iran's assets will stay overseas.
under this bill, they would be required to be kept overseas because all u.s. sanctions would be kept in effect by law with no change allowed. so let's be honest. this bill is not really about helping these victims, it's about exploiting their plight and their tragedy to make a political splash. look, everyone here knows i'm no fan of the iran nuclear agreement. i voted against it, but the other side won, and whether you are for or against the deal, it's time to be realistic about what happens next. in my opinion, there were two potential courses. the first is to do everything we can to strengthen and enforce the agreement and hold iran to its commitments. we should double down ron our support for friends and -- on our support for friends and allies in the region. we should push leaders in tehran to release detained americans and improve its abysmal record on human rights. that's the course i hope we'll take. i'll soon introduce legislation to pursue those aims, and i'll
work with members of both parties to get these measures to the president's desk. the other course would be doing to the iran agreement what leaders on the other side have tried to do to the affordable care act act, and that's what i'm afraid of here. vote after vote after vote, whether we like it or not, on an issue that has already been voted on in this chamber many, many times. i don't want the dispute on iran to turn into the affordable care act, where we try to kill it 60 different ways. we should not be using this for political purposes. we should be passing legislation which i know we can get out of the foreign affairs committee in a collaborative way that would really do something to help these victims, that would really do something to hold iran accountable for all its reprehensible acts. so i hope that what we're doing today is not the path we're going down, not only now but in he future with other things. there was a measure in the senate that was very similar to
this which tried to hold iran to certain things and say that the funds couldn't be released unless iran did this or did that. we could do this another 60 times. it would be counterproductive. let's put our heads together. let's figure out a way that we can continue to hold iran accountable, and let's move on that way. so i hope we can move past this bill and start working on measures to ensure that the iran agreement is implemented as strongly and stringently as possible. i hope we can get back to our regular practice in the foreign affairs committee of which we have been so proud and focus on making policy that leaves politics at the water's edge. i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from california. mr. royce: the administration is arguing, mr. speaker, that although the iranian regime has access to over $20 billion, that this judgment is $43 billion, so there isn't enough money there to make payment. but in addition to the $20
billion-some, iran is in the process right now of negotiation and paying, paying and supporting in transfers to other regimes. for example, a report out this week says iran is purchasing $21 billion of airplanes from russia and satellites from russia. $21 billion. iran somehow has the money to do that but it doesn't have the money for this claim. the report out about a month ago says that iran's annual support for hezbollah is over $100 million per year. somehow they got the spending cash for that. it's -- it's providing the syrian regime, one estimate -- one of the think tanks here in town is they provided them a little over $10 billion a year. so iran somehow has the discretionary money for these
other purposes but not for the purpose of the judgments won in u.s. court for, you know, over 1,000 victims -- family members of the victims of their attacks. so -- but i yield two minutes to the gentleman from texas, mr. poe, the chairman of the foreign affairs subcommittee on terrorism, nonproliferation and trade. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from texas is recognized for two minutes. mr. poe: i want to thank the chairman and i want to thank mr. meehan for this legislation. mr. speaker, the iranian ayatollah has preached and practiced death to america since the 1970's. iran is a state sponsor of terrorism. iran has been sued in federal courts by the families of the murdered victims. iran is guilty of the murder of 421 americans in beirut, lebanon, in 1983. iran is guilty of the murder of 19 service members and jurring
372 others in sa -- injuring 372 others in saudi arabia in 1986. iran is guilty of murdering 1,000 other americans, including some in iraq and afghanistan. federal courts have awarded the victims and families over $40 billion for these crimes, but iran will not pay. it laughs at the death of the innocents it has murdered. it laughs at american justice. well, mr. speaker, it's about time for the long arm of american justice to hold iran accountable for its sins. make them pay. i don't understand why some are concerned or more concerned about the murderous iranian regime than they are about justice. justice for the victims that were murdered by this regime. let the ayatollah know he cannot get a different diplomatic pass or -- diplomatic pass or sanction relief until he has paid for the crimes. he has sown the seeds of iran -- has sown the seeds of murder
in iran. now it's time for them to reap the consequences for their crimes. it seems to me that the voices of the murdered cry out for us to do something for justice, justice for them that's been too long waiting. this bill, in my opinion, will do it. it's about time we have justice because justice is what we're supposed to do in this country, and that's just the way it is. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from texas yields back. the gentleman from california reserves. the gentleman from new york. mr. engel: i yield two minutes to the gentleman from minnesota, mr. ellison. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from minnesota is recognized for two minutes. mr. ellison: i want to thank the gentleman for the time and urge members to vote no on this particular bill. you know, once we were able to secure this negotiation and once the deal was put in place, the focus of our attention should shift to making sure that iran lives up to its commitments and we should use this prior negotiation as a
template for negotiating other issues, including the captives, including the interest of these victims talked about here today. but what this bill does is handcuffs the president and says that the president doesn't have any discretion to do his end of this bargain, to do what's -- to exercise his discretion to forward and help america and the-plus-plus to ive up to our end -- the p-5 plus one to live up to our end of the bill. i think the method they're going about it is just one. let's use the template that has been developed through the negotiation process to go back and say, ok, now we got other things we want to talk to you about. rather than pass legislation on this floor that will do nothing other than to hamstring the president. it's the wrong way to do it. it's a mistake and it should be voted down. i yield back.
the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from minnesota yields back. the gentleman from new york reserves. the gentleman from california is recognized. mr. royce: i yield two minutes to the gentleman from new jersey, mr. smith. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for two minutes. mr. smith: mr. speaker, in 1983, 241 servicemen in beirut were killed and another 60 injured by a car bomb. one of the marines murdered was my constituent, paul, who lived with his young family in my hometown of hamilton. in my second term as congressman, i joined mourners at his funeral. i will never forget the agony and the sorrow of his family. iranian terrorism killed paul and over the decades has killed or maimed thousands of other americans. a federal court, mr. speaker, a district court found that the 1983 bombing was, quote, beyond question perpetrated by hezbollah and its agents who received massive materiel and tactical support from the yearian government. later, a three-judge federal court appeals panel approved
$1.75 billion in judgment against iran for the 1983 bombing and some other iranian acts of terror. today, iran is poised to get billions of dollars through so-called sanctions relief for an egregiously flawed comprehensive peace plan or plan of action, money that will procure for iran a largely arsenal of sophisticated weapons and an enhanced capability to terrorize, murder and destabilize. they talked about getting weapons, jets from russia. the justice for victims iranian terrorism act, authored by pat meehan, says not so fast. the president has said he will veto this bill. that is wrong, mr. speaker. that's uncaring, it's unacceptable and it's unconscionable. support court-ordered victim payments by the terrorist state of iran. fundamental justice demands that this bill become law. i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back.
the gentleman from california reserves. the gentleman from new york. mr. engel: i now yield three minutes to the gentleman from virginia, our colleague on the foreign affairs committee, mr. connolly. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york is recognized for three minutes. mr. connolly: i thank the speaker and i thank my good friend from new york, mr. elliott engel, and for his leadership on -- eliot engel, and for his leadership on the house foreign affairs committee. this bill prohibits any waivers, reductions or any relief from u.s. sanctions on iran until iran pays all court-ordered damage claims to u.s. victims. those claims total about $46 billion. this bill would prevent the u.s. from implementing its commitments under the iran deal, which is really what my friends on the other side are trying to do. not being able to win directly, let's get at it indirectly, and et's cover it with the respectability. but the real issue is cynically how we use the plight of u.s.
victims for another partisan shot. we all want to help american victims of iran's terrorism and lack of justice, but this is not the way to help them. it would have the opposite effect, by reducing the chance that any claims, in fact, would be paid, because by freezing assets, iran wouldn't have the wherewithal to do what this bill says it should do before sanctions are lifted. think about this. iran owes $46 billion in u.s. claims, but it doesn't have the money right now, even if it wanted to pay. iran only has access to about $20 billion of its own reserves. realistically, the only funds that could be used are the frozen funds under u.s. sanctions held in banks around the world. but under this bill, the frozen funds couldn't be used to pay the claims, and all the money remains frozen until iran pays the claims.
a catch-22 if there ever was one. it couldn't sell any oil to use to free up cash because those funds, too would be frozen. another clue about what's really behind this bill is that all of the 76 sponsors are my friends on the other side of the aisle. not a single democrat. regardless of one's position on the iran deal, a deal i probably supported because it keeps iran from becoming a nuclear state, opposing this cynical bill fact is the right vote if you care. i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york -- virginia yields back. the gentleman from california. mr. royce: i yield four minutes to the author of this bill. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for four minutes. mr. meehan: i thank the chairman for his leadership. $21 billion for russian jets but not a penny for the victims
of their own acts of terror. that's what my colleagues are trying to say. in fact, the president can negotiate it. let him reach an installment plan, but let's make sure that these dollars are paid. look, this is a fundamental question. should iran receive relief from united states sanctions before it pays the victims of terrorism, the $43 billion that u.s. courts say these victims are owed? when we say terrorism, what are we talking about? we're talking about iran an-backed assassinations and bombings and attacks across time zones from paris to jerusalem from new york to beirut to east africa to buenos aries. i say not one cent. these victims are united states citizens. they're wives, brothers and sisters, children who hail from all across the nation and they were killed in hijackings and suicide attacks and bombings of buses, planes and buildings and
embassies and shopping malls and pizza parlors. in fact, i met with one of those victims. today, this morning, and yesterday, the widow of kenneth welch and his child. they're here in washington today. they've been waiting 30 years for the opportunity to see this issue addressed. my friends, by voting against this legislation, you're saying that iran and the perpetrators of these atrocities deserve u.s. sanctions relief before the victims deserve the court-ordered compensation. let me say it again. now, by voting no, you're putting the interests of iran's terror machine before the american victims of that terror. i say, not one cent. to those who say iran can't afford to pay these damages, let me remind you of a few facts. iran has yearly gross domestic
product in excess of $1.3 trillion and they just spent $21 billion on russian jets. the facts show that iran has the money and will have much more if the sanctions are lifted. money our own administration freely admits will go to finance even more terror. i sat yesterday with ken steven, the brother of rob steven, a united states navy diver executed on flight 847. his brother ken said to me yesterday, if the president doesn't this opportunity an congress doesn't take the opportunity to hold iran accountable for the terrorist acts now, i have to ask them, when will they? 30 years, one family, more than 15 for another. when will they? he's talking to us. let's answer him. let's today stand up for the standards of u.s. navy petty officer robert steedham. let's vote as one house to say
we'll put him and the many victims of iran's terrorism before the criminals who conspired to kill him. until they pay these victims what they're owed, let's say no to iran. not one cent. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from california reserves. the gentleman from new york. >> i now yield three minutes to the -- mr. engel: i now yield three minutes to the gentleman from oregon, mr. blumenauer. the speaker pro tempore: the zwrelt is recognized for three minutes. mr. blumenauer: i appreciate the gentleman's courtesy in permitting me to speak on this issue. i listened to the impassioned pleas from my friends on the other side of the aisle about horrific acts of the thugs who run iran. nobody disputes that. nothing before us would take away the sangs we have against their terrorist act tvity. we are all committed to justice
for those people. but bear in mind what this legislation seeks to do is to unwind another critical objective of the united states, of our allies, prevent a nuclear armed iran. that agreement was a signal achievement of diplomacy not just of the obama administration, but of russia, china, germany, france, great britain, working with us to secure the strongest agreement that we have seen that -- to contain these thugs' nuclear ambitions. the world is united with us to restrain a nuclear iran. now, we have had testimony from
our partners that if the united states walks away from that agreement, we're on our own. they're not going to continue to enforce sanctions against nuclear iran. and ultimately, iran will get its money and a free hand to develop nuclear weapons unencumbered by the allies that we've assembled. and the pressure that we've put on them. now, my friend mr. engel is correct. mr. connolly. the construct here is very difficult, even if this were to be approved, to actually work out on paper. but take it a step further. these elements have been in place for years and have not resulted in any movement for the victims. we've had what the rest of the world thinks is a significant breakthrough with iran.
we've got an area of cooperation and the world is united with us to put the pressure on them. i would suggest rather than throwing this agreement in the trash can and allow iran to develop nuclear weapons and make them stronger and ultimately they will get their money because india and china are going to go ahead and start buying oil from them again as the sanctions collapse, and it will be the united states against the world again. we couldn't even sanction little bitty cuba to change their regime. it takes multinational efforts to be able to make changes. this agreement is an important first step and i would suggest it gives us an opportunity to continue putting pressure to be able to obtain the justice that we all want for those victims. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has peeksered. -- expired. the gentleman --
>> i yield one minute to the gentleman from new jersey, mr. frelinghuysen. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. frelinghuysen: i thank the gentleman for yielding and i want to thank mr. meehan and mr. royce for their leadership. the administration acknowledged that some of this money will be certainly distributed to iranian military global terrorist force, an the quds organization with american blood on its hands. we remember the bombing of the marine bar rocks -- barracks in beirut in 1983. the airmen who died in the khobar towers bombing in saudi arabia in 1985. and what about the victims of iranian financed attack, like lee so who chied in a bus bombing in gaza in 1995 and sara duker of new jersey who was
murdered on a bus in jerusalem in 1996. who speaks for them? for those innocents and their families? this bill does. thank you and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california reserves. the gentleman from new york. mr. engel: i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. mr. royce: i yield one minute to the gentleman from texas, mr. hurd, member of the committee on homeland security. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for one minute. mr. hurd: i rise in support of this legislation. justice is a powerful word. for those who have been wronged, justice can bring peace and closure. for those guilty of harming the innocent, justice is absolutely necessary to ensure the authority of our laws. without justice, truth becomes irrelevant. so if america is going to continue to be the greatest nation in the world, it is imperative that we pursue justice. but the iran nuclear deal was deexact opposite. it rewards lawlessness and corruption, tell ice ran they can be unjust to our own
citizens and the curn administration will allow them to get away with it. iran is responsible for sponsoring terrorism that has led to the death of thousands of meshes. when the families of these americans sought justice in court, iran was found guilty and ordered to make reparations. awarded y of cyrus was $300,000 after cyrus was assassinated for criticizing the iranian government. is this administration forcing iran to pay? are they demanding justice for americans like cyrus? no. instead, this administration is handing over an estimated $100 billion to iran. that's not justice. that's outrageous. yield back. mr. royce: i yield one minute to the gentleman from ohio, mr. when strup. the speaker pro tempore: the for one is recognized
minute. mr. when strup: -- mr. wenstrup: dan was working at the u.s. embassy in beirut in 1983. a bomb -- ann was working at the u.s. embassy in beirut in 1983. a bomb exploded, broking many of her bones. she received a judgment against iran for the suffering she endured. over the past 15 years, u.s. courts have handed down 80 judgments against iran, adding up to more than $43.5 billion in unpaid damages. iran refuse toss pay. yet the president's nuclear agreement provides iran with $150 billion in sanctions relief. those that have destroyed innocent american lives, iranian terrorists, are being chosen over the american victims
themselves. this bill would prohibit the president from removing any sanctions in place against iran until the president has certified to congress that iran has paid each federal court judgment. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york. mr. engel: i continue to reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. mr. royce: i yield one minute to the gentleman from pennsylvania, mr. fitzpatrick. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for one minute. mr. fitzpatrick: i thank the chairman, i thank my colleague from pennsylvania, mr. meehan, for introducing this good bill. it's a compassionate bill. it's a bill that tells victims of terrorism that they're not forgotten. i chair the task force in the house financial services committee to investigate terrorism financing. we had a hearing specifically on the joint plan of action, so called p-5 plus one. there was an to attorney who testified at the hearing about the $43 billion in judgments and
how this deal then not approved yet, was likely going to sidestep the ability of victims who did all the right things through the legal process, who hired lawyers, who went to court, who got judgments, legitimate judgments, how these judgments would not be paid. on yull 29, i wrote a letter to secretary lew, the secretary of the treasury. secretary kerroif the state department. asking whether or not they had addressed the issue. it was part of the negotiations. that was july 29. i've yet to receive a response from the department of state in any way. mr. chairman, the deafening silence of this administration is completely overlooked the victims of terrorism. we're going to give the money to the islamic republic of iran and not to american victims and that's wrong. this bill is right. i urge my colleagues to support it. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california.
mr. royce: i yield one minute to the gentleman from north carolina, mr. holding. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from north carolina is recognized for one minute. mr. holding: iran is shortly set to receive over $100 billion when president obama uses his pen to lift our sanctions against the world's largest sponsor of terrorism. at the same time, mr. speaker, iran owes u.s. victims of terror $43.5 billion. one of these victims was first petty officer michael wagner of columbia, north carolina. he was serving at an american embassy in beirut in 1984 when a car bomb filled with explosives paid for by iran detonated outside his office, killing him and 23 other people. in the case of petty officer wagner and iran's other victim, our courts found iran guilty and ordered iran to pay restitution but iran has not paid a penny. mr. speaker, we should require
iran to pay every penny it owes to the victims of terrorism before sanctions are lifted. period. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from california. -- >> i yield one minute to the gentleman from missouri, mr. harper. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for one minute. mr. harper: i have and will remain opposed to the joint comprehensive plan of action on iran. it represent ice ran's ability to build a nuclear weapon at a future date while reaping the financial benefits of immediate relief from international sanctions. by removing sanctions to the agreement -- by removing sanctions, the agreement injects almost $100 billion into the iranian regime. iran is the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world, funding hezbollah in lebanon and hamas in gaza. over $43 billion in judgments have been awarded to americans who have been the victims of
iranian terrorism. the agreement fails to clear those judgments. the agreement at best delays iran's ability to build nuclear weapons and at worse gives the regime more money to engage in terrorism while provide nothing justice to americans already harmed by the regime. the justice for victims of iranian terrorism act is timely. it's appropriate. and it should be supported by every member of this body who believe in the validity of u.s. courts and the federal sovereign immunity act. thank you, mr. chairman, i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from california. >> i yield one minute to mr. hill. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. hill: i thank the chairman for yielding me time on this. in fact, the whole point of our
debate today because the maximum amount of negotiating clout that the united states had over these sanctions was during these negotiations before we relieve sangs. before iran gets access to their oil flow monthly and their $100 billion. $44 billion and 85 judgments. the number of intelligence agent ises that have worked day and night to adjudicate these claims in federal court, the number of f.b.i. agents involved, the federal government's obligation to generate awards for these victims and yet this administration has never raised it in public in regard to the iranian agreement. under under the 1998 and 2006 federal sovereign uniits act, the president is -- mr. royce: i yield the gentleman an additional minute. mr. hill: he's obligated to
seek restitution under the federal sovereign immunities act. president bush did his duties when he had leverage over libya. he got the claims paid for the victims of terror in libya. every day we come to work in this house and we ask, what can we do to help this country? how can we right a wrong? and today is that day, and i urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support mr. meehan's outstanding bill. let's right the wrong. let's adjudicate these claims. let's get this money back to the victims of terrorism. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from arkansas yields back. mr. royce: i yield a minute to the gentleman from pennsylvania, mr. costello. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from pennsylvania is recognized for one minute. mr. costello: thank you, mr. speaker. a majority of this house thinks this deal is bad. a majority of the senate thinks this deal's bad, and a majority of the american people thinks this deal's bad. we have not had any input, and
the effort here today is to simply make a bad deal a little less bad. and the idea behind mr. meehan's bill is to provide restitution to american victims, and it's not just any american victims. it's the victims of iranian terror. $150 billion is going to flow to iran. it seems to be common sense that the first $43 billion should be paid to the victims of iranian terror. joseph was one of those victims. lived right outside my congressional district. spent five years in brutal captivity before being released in 1991. a vote for this bill today is a vote for the victims of iranian terror, and i also want to say congressman meehan's congressional district is right next to miami mine. i want to thank him for his thoughtful, creative approach and his leadership in this country and in this house on
this bill. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the entleman's time has expired. the gentleman from new york. the gentleman from new york reserves. the gentleman from california. mr. royce: i yield one minute to the gentleman from colorado, mr. coffman. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado is recognized for one minute. thank you, mr. chairman. in 1982 i was with the united states marine corps off the coast of beirut, lebanon, waiting on order to do evacuations of the u.s. embassy nd u.s. citizens and their families. the -- our assignment was done in august, 1982. we returned to the united states. i finished my two years with
the battalion. the balance tanyon went back out. they were in beirut, lebanon, at the airport. in october, 1983, suicide bomber drove a truck laydened with explosives into the marine barracks. 241 marines were killed that day. to my friends who died there, first lieutenant bill zimmerman, captain bill winter, captain joe bosh, captain maya haskell, today is your day, today is your day for justice. god bless you. god remember all of you. mr. royce: i yield the gentleman an additional 30 seconds. mr. coffman: thank you, mr. chairman. today is a day for justice for these marines, for their families who were lost on that
day. by iranian-backed hezbollah bomber. and so i want to thank the gentleman from pennsylvania for bringing this measure forward, and i urge my colleagues not to forget those who have died and to remember this. that when the iranians say "death to americans," they mean death to americans. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. members are reminded to direct their comments to the chair. mr. royce: i yield one minute to the gentleman from michigan, mr. bishop. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from michigan is recognized for one minute. r. bishop: mr. speaker, i rise today to join my colleagues to support this legislation. i want to thank the gentleman for his sponsorship. i'm proud to be a co-sponsor. 31 years ago, one michigan family sleepless worry became a heartbreaking reality. their son, brother, father, u.s. army warrant officer kenneth welch was one of the servicemen to lose their life
in the bombing of beirut, lebanon. u.s. judgments later found the act of terrorism was sponsored by the iranian regime and that regime for its crimes was ordered to pay damages to the family of kenneth welch. not surprisingly, however, not one dime has been paid to the family yet, today we stand before this country. we find ourselves dealing with an administration that wants to lift sanctions. mr. speaker, i am beside myself to think that this nation -- of this nation that we've become. america's built on bravery and freedom, and it's because of the unwavering strength and sacrifice of men and women in the military. i am forever proud of our soldiers, and i know my colleagues are here as well today too. that's why we can't let the iran terror continue, and we need to do whatever we can to address the victims like ken welch and i yield back my time. thank you. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back.