Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued the following statement on reports that the Obama Administration is seeking to avoid Congress with any final negotiated agreement on Iran’s nuclear program:
“I’m disappointed by reports this morning that the Obama Administration is seeking to deny Congress any role in judging a nuclear deal with Iran.
“In July, I led a bipartisan letter to the President – signed by over 340 Members of Congress – calling for ‘greater consultation with Congress on a potential sanctions relief package that may be part of a final agreement.’ That extensive engagement hasn’t come, even as the Administration is considering such hugely consequential national security decisions. It’s tough to see a solid agreement when Congress – which was critical to putting in the strong sanctions that got negotiators to this point – is so clearly sidelined.
“When asked if the Administration would come to Congress to secure legislative relief of sanctions in a final agreement with Iran, in a Congressional hearing earlier this year, Secretary of State John Kerry responded: ‘(w)ell, of course. We would be obligated to under the law.’ He added that ‘what we do will have to pass muster with Congress.’
“This report is another sign that the Obama Administration may strike an agreement that fails to protect the vital national security interest of the United States and our allies.”
Note: The New York Times reported this morning that, “If agreement is reached, President Obama will do everything in his power to avoid letting Congress vote on it.”
Obama Administration Appointment Comes as Failed Response Becomes More Evident
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued the following statement on President Obama’s appointment of Ron Klain as Ebola Response Coordinator and other shortcomings in the response to the outbreak. Chairman Royce said: “Given the mounting failings in the Obama Administration’s response to the Ebola outbreak, it is right that the President has sought to task a single individual to coordinate its response. But I have to ask why the President didn’t pick an individual with a noteworthy infectious disease or public health background?
“From the local hospital to international health organizations, there have been missteps. This morning, the Associated Press is reporting that the World Health Organization, the U.N. health agency, is acknowledging its poor leadership in West Africa. Indeed, the Foreign Affairs Committee has heard testimony that the WHO has been ‘bound up by bureaucracy.’ Experts don’t understand why it took the organization five months and a thousand deaths before declaring an international health emergency – and neither do I. It’s critical that WHO functions effectively, starting now.
“Given the severity of this threat, I’ve called for the President to immediately suspend the issuance of visas for non-U.S. nationals in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, the West Africa countries most impacted by the Ebola outbreak. Taking a time out on travel to the U.S. by these individuals - who aren’t part of the health crisis response - is a prudent step.”
Note: Chairman Royce’s letter calling on the State Department to immediately suspend the issuance of visas for non-U.S. nationals in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone can be found HERE.
At a September 17th Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, Dr. Kent Brantly, who became infected with Ebola while serving in Liberia, detailed his experience both as a care giver and Ebola patient. The doctor criticized the World Health Organization, testifying:
“Even now, the international response is woefully inadequate...Agencies like the World Health Organization, as has been mentioned, remained bound up by bureaucracy. Their speeches, proposals and plans, though noble, have not resulted in any significant action to stop this Ebola outbreak.”
House Foreign Affairs Chairman calls selection “farcical”
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued the following statement on Venezuela’s selection to the United Nations Security Council:
“At every step – whether it is respect for its own people or support for international stability – Venezuela falls short. That Venezuela was able to win a seat on the Security Council is farcical. It is deeply disappointing that Latin American countries decided to put forward a single country from their region for this rotational seat. This sends the wrong signal not only to Venezuelans – but to all in the region who hope to live under the rule of law where their human rights are protected.”
Alleged activities include leaking sensitive information
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued the following statement after the State Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report that concludes there was the appearance of undue influence and favoritism in three of eight Diplomatic Security investigations originally examined by the OIG. This, it says, “undermines public confidence in the integrity of the Department and its leaders.”
Chairman Royce said: "The unusual role played by State Department top management handling these internal investigations of potential criminal acts is disturbing. I am pleased that the Department’s new Inspector General, Mr. Linick, took it upon himself to reexamine this issue. It is clear that the previous examination of these serious allegations was insufficient at best. It looks like a suspect process was given cover by a suspect IG report.
“Today’s report demonstrates why having a permanent Inspector General is critical to overseeing government operations. Unfortunately, the State Department lacked this accountability during the first five years of this Administration. With no top cop on the beat for nearly 2,000 days, I’m not surprised that management went off the rails in this case.
“Luckily that’s not the case today. I’m proud of the role that the Committee played – on a bipartisan basis – to get a permanent Inspector General in place to oversee the State Department’s operations."
Note: The Committee urged the swift nomination of a permanent Inspector General in a bipartisan letter to Secretary Kerry on February 4, 2013. Chairman Royce later pressed Secretary Kerry on this matter during a congressional hearing on April 17, 2013. Secretary Kerry acknowledged the five-year gap and committed that he would "get this done." President Obama nominated Steve Linick to fill the post on June 27, 2013, and the Senate confirmed him on September 17, 2013.
On June 10, 2013, reports indicated that State Department officials may have inappropriately intervened in investigations of improper activities. These alleged activities included the leaking of sensitive information and other potentially criminal and administrative misconduct at diplomatic facilities abroad. On June 11 and 13, 2013, the Committee wrote the Department and the Office of the Inspector General requesting details about allegations of undue influence. The letter to Acting Inspector General Harold Geisel also probed whether his office intentionally withheld pertinent information from Congress on this matter. The State Department and the Office of the Inspector General assured the Committee in 2013 that these allegations were unsubstantiated and without merit. Inspector General Linick's report refutes those assertions.
Washington, D.C. –Today U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called on the State Department to immediately suspend the issuance of visas for non-U.S. nationals in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, the West Africa countries most impacted by the Ebola outbreak.
In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, Chairman Royce wrote: “Given the critical need to contain this disease at its source, I was surprised that the Department of State has not already exercised its authority to suspend consular services, which is standard procedure in countries experiencing a major security disruption. This would be a prudent measure to mitigate the risk of Ebola exposure and contain its spread – a bedrock principal of health crisis management.”
The signed letter to Secretary Kerry is available HERE.
The text of the letter follows:
October 15, 2014
The Honorable John F. Kerry
The Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20520
Dear Mr. Secretary:
As the Administration works to contain the Ebola Virus Disease epidemic in West Africa and mitigate the risk of further transmission into the United States, every reasonable containment option should be pursued urgently. This includes measures to enhance health system preparedness in the United States, but most critically to contain the outbreak at its source.
Given that, I was deeply concerned to learn that the U.S. Embassies in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone are still processing visas for non-U.S. nationals just as they had prior to the Ebola outbreak. It is my understanding that approximately 100 applicants for visas are visiting these three U.S. Embassies each day. Of course, once these individuals are issued a visa by the Embassy, they are free to travel to the United States. Given the critical need to contain this disease at its source, I was surprised that the Department of State has not already exercised its authority to suspend consular services, which is standard procedure in countries experiencing a major security disruption. This would be a prudent measure to mitigate the risk of Ebola exposure and contain its spread – a bedrock principle of health crisis management.
To that end, I would strongly encourage the Department of State to immediately institute a temporary suspension of consular services – particularly the issuance of visas – for non-U.S. nationals in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, the West Africa countries most heavily impacted by this outbreak. This is a reasonable and immediately implementable containment measure that may help mitigate the risk of further translocation to the United States, while not impeding the U.S. response to the epidemic.
Thank you for your consideration of this urgent matter.
EDWARD R. ROYCE Chairman
Note: The attached letter corrects a typographical spelling error in the letter sent to Secretary Kerry last night and was retransmitted this morning.Read More
ISIL on NATO’s border, says Chairman of House Foreign Affairs Committee
Washington, D.C. – Upon reports that the Syrian town of Kobani, near the Turkish border, may fall to ISIL militants, Chairman Royce made the following statement:
“For weeks, ISIL has been advancing on the strategically significant Syrian town of Kobani, which had been inhabited by some 400,000 Syrian Kurds. For weeks, the terrorists have bombarded the town with artillery, mortars and truck-mounted heavy machine guns. Now, the black flag of ISIL has been hoisted in portions of the town. A slaughter awaits those who haven’t fled across the border to Turkey.
“The ISIL advance has evolved over a period of weeks in broad daylight. While Syrian Kurds continue to sacrifice their lives in defense of the town, the Obama Administration has done little to stop the assault. This is yet another situation in which the Islamic State’s personnel and heavy weapons have been readily visible and vulnerable to U.S. airstrikes. Instead of decisive action, the ISIL advance was met with only a handful of airstrikes. This morning’s escalated efforts may be too late.
“A terrorist army is now on NATO’s doorstep. It is time for Turkey and other Alliance members to more forcefully get involved in combating ISIL in Syria.”
IAEA’s frustrated efforts to seek information on the “potential military dimensions” of the Iranian nuclear program at center of dispute
Washington, D.C. – Last night, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the Committee’s Ranking Member, along with 352 other House Members—including Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Majority Whip Steve Scalise, and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer—sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry to express serious concern about Iran’s refusal to fully cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency. The concern comes as the United States and other P5+1 countries continue negotiations with Iran regarding its nuclear program. A total of 354 Members signed the letter. The IAEA has sought information on the “potential military dimensions” of the Iranian nuclear program, in particular information about Iran’s extensive research and development of a nuclear explosive device In the letter to Secretary of State Kerry, Chairman Royce and his colleagues write: “We believe that Iran’s willingness to fully reveal all aspects of its nuclear program is a fundamental test of Iran’s intention to uphold a comprehensive agreement. As you wrote in the Washington Post earlier this summer, if Iran’s nuclear program is truly peaceful, ‘it’s not a hard proposition to prove.’ The only reasonable conclusion for its stonewalling of international investigators is that Tehran does indeed have much to hide.” The signed letter is available HERE. The text of the letter follows: October 1, 2014 The Honorable John F. Kerry Secretary U.S. Department of State 2201 C Street, NW Washington, DC 20520 Dear Mr. Secretary: As the United States prepares for the resumption of negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran to achieve a comprehensive nuclear agreement, we remain deeply concerned with Iran’s refusal to fully cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency. As you know, the IAEA has sought information on the “potential military dimensions” of the Iranian nuclear program, in particular information about Iran’s extensive research and development of a nuclear explosive device. For several years, the IAEA has attempted to work with Iran to resolve this central issue, but Tehran has refused. Last November, the IAEA and Iran concluded a “Framework for Cooperation” in which Iran agreed to work with the IAEA, including by providing satisfactory information in response to IAEA inquiries within mutually agreed deadlines. Nevertheless, in its September 5, 2014 report, the IAEA stated that Iran had failed to meet its latest deadline, even as it continued to demolish structures and construct others at the Parchin military base, where clandestine nuclear-related activities have reportedly taken place. We believe that Iran’s willingness to fully reveal all aspects of its nuclear program is a fundamental test of Iran’s intention to uphold a comprehensive agreement. As you wrote in the Washington Post earlier this summer, if Iran’s nuclear program is truly peaceful, “it’s not a hard proposition to prove.” The only reasonable conclusion for its stonewalling of international investigators is that Tehran does indeed have much to hide. We are concerned that an agreement that accepts Iran’s lack of transparency on this key issue would set the dangerous precedent that certain facilities and aspects of Iran’s nuclear program can be declared off limits by Tehran, resulting in additional wide-ranging restrictions on IAEA inspectors, and making effective verification virtually impossible. A resolution of this issue is also essential to establishing a baseline regarding the status of the Iranian nuclear program. Accurate predictions of the period of time needed by Iran to assemble a weapon and assessments of Iran’s compliance cannot be made without highly reliable information obtained from an unrestricted inspection and verification regime. Such a baseline is also critical to developing more precise estimates on the time it would take Iran to develop a nuclear weapons capability without detection. We would like to achieve a negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis. As negotiations resume, we urge you to carefully monitor Iran’s cooperation with the IAEA’s inquiry. As you have written, there is a “discrepancy…between Iran’s professed intent with respect to its nuclear program and the actual content of that program to date.” We agree with your assessment that “these issues cannot be dismissed; they must be addressed by the Iranians if a comprehensive solution is to be reached.” An agreement that effectively prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability demands transparency on the extensive research and development work that Iran has undertaken in the past.
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued the following statement about the situation in Hong Kong:
“For nearly two decades, Hong Kong has thrived as a free society under ‘one country, two systems.’ This freedom is now eroding as Beijing appears to undermine its promise to allow genuine democratic elections in Hong Kong. A managed choice is no choice at all.
“Now is the time for genuine dialogue and to maintain the promises of the Basic Law between the government of Hong Kong, the people of Hong Kong, and the People’s Republic of China. I lead a delegation to Hong Kong this year. I call on all sides to exercise restraint, maintain the promise of the Basic Law and solve this through dialogue.”
Chairman Ed Royce Opening Statement
Washington, D.C. – This morning at a 10 a.m. hearing, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, will continue to press for the release of U.S. Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, who has been held in a Mexican prison since March. The hearing is entitled “Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi: Our Marine in Mexican Custody.” Live webcast and witness testimony is available HERE. Below is Chairman Royce’s opening statement as prepared for delivery at the hearing: Thank you Chairman Salmon for your leadership shown by convening this important hearing to discuss the ongoing case of Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi. This Committee has worked hard at exercising oversight of the role the State Department plays in aiding Americans abroad, has been aggressive in defense of this American in trouble abroad, while being respectful of our important relationship with Mexico. But Andrew has been in jail since March. The bottom line is that this Marine needs to be home, now. This case is important. As Members of Congress, we must see to it that U.S. servicemen and women who are put in harm’s way to defend our country are properly cared for when they return home injured, as is Andrew’s case. Mrs. Tahmooressi, I am pleased that you are here with us today to share your thoughts on your son’s detention. This hasn’t been easy for you, we know. I traveled to Tecate, Mexico in June to visit your son, spent almost an hour with him, and came away from that visit even more committed to helping Andrew get back home to receive the PTSD treatment he needs and deserves. This is the least we can do for his service. Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi is a brave Marine who served two combat tours in Afghanistan. During his time deployed to Helmand province with the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, Andrew received a combat meritorious promotion – a battlefield promotion under meritorious conditions. This rarely happens, and is a testament to Andrew’s valor and love of country. To discuss his service, it is an honor to have Marine Sgt. Robert Buchanan here to testify. I met Robert at my office in Orange County, California where I learned that he served with Andrew in Afghanistan. He is now a veterans advocate, having earned the Purple Heart after sustaining injuries himself from an IED explosion. Robert, thank you for travelling to Washington. We are all looking forward to hearing your testimony about your friend, Sgt. Tahmooressi, with whom you served on the front lines. As many know, Andrew suffered physical injuries as a result of an IED explosion during his deployment in Afghanistan, as well as psychological injuries in the form of combat PTSD. The San Diego Veterans Affairs hospital diagnosed Andrew with combat PTSD less than ten days prior to his arrest at the Mexican border. Andrew’s PTSD has resulted in hyper-vigilance, memory and cognition lapses, and depression. When I learned that Andrew had attempted to harm himself while held at the over-crowded and dangerous La Mesa Penitentiary in Tijuana, it was clear to me that he would not be able to receive the specialized treatment he needs as long as he’s held in Mexico. It is because of this that I, together with Congressman Salmon, visited Andrew, and have pressed for his release, most recently asking the Attorney General of Mexico to consider the extenuating circumstances of Andrew’s combat related PTSD, a condition requiring specific expertise not available in Mexico. Last week I had a good and productive conversation with the Mexican Attorney General and am confident that a humanitarian release of Andrew will occur very soon so he can start getting better.
View Hearing Archive Hearing Video:Opening Statements:
Rep. Edward R. Royce, Chairman Committee on Foreign Affairs[full text of opening statement]
Rep. Matt Salmon, Chairman Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere[full text of opening statement]
Chairman Salmon's Opening Statement:
Chairman Royce's Opening Statement:Witnesses:
Chairman Salmon Questions Witnesses:
Chairman Royce Questions Witnesses:
***Any changes to witness list will be reflected above.
Washington, DC 20515