Katie Grant, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today in support of S. 2165, the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act. Below are his remarks and a link to the video:
Click here to watch the video.
“Again, as I do repeatedly when I rise to speak on issues related to our closest ally in the Middle East, Israel, and the relationship between our two countries to congratulate the Chairman of the Committee, the Gentlelady from Florida, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, for her leadership on this issue and focus on the importance not only of the relationship but on the importance of making sure that Israel is strong and able to defend herself.
“And also to congratulate the Gentleman from California, Mr. Berman. I don't know anybody who, for a longer period of time has focused on the issue of keeping the relationship between Israel and the United States strong and vibrant and open and who has, on this Floor, in Committee, and in our caucus and around this country, educated people any more than he has to the necessity to keep this relationship strong and to keep Israel strong. So I rise to thank both of them for bringing this issue to the Floor.
“Mr. Speaker, I was proud to co-sponsor this legislation with my friend, the Majority Leader, Mr. Cantor. That piece of legislation, which Ms. Ros-Lehtinen and Mr. Berman brought to the Floor some months ago, passed here with a vote of 411-2, showing the overwhelming bipartisan support this issue has. This is clearly an issue, unlike so many that we deal with, that enjoys not only bipartisan support between the two parties but support of philosophical perspectives from all over this caucus and this country. We don't always see eye to eye on matters of policy, but we always find common ground when it comes to strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship.
“This is the case for two very important reasons. First, because the United States and Israel are linked by history and by the common glue of shared values: democracy, free enterprise, respect for human rights, and the rule of law. Secondly, because a strong Israel is in America's national security interest. We make that point almost every time we speak because it is important for all of our constituents, our fellow Americans to understand that the investment that we make in Israel, the investment in terms of time, in terms of support, in terms of finances, in terms of military assistance, are all in the interests of the United States of America and its citizens. Yes, it is to Israel's benefit as well. But primarily the United States acts because it sees as critical to its own interest the safety, security, and sovereignty of Israel. Military and security ties with Israel help the Pentagon and our intelligence agencies track threats to Americans at home and abroad. And they enable us to partner on the development of technologies that help keep our people safe.
“The number one regional threat, of course, as all of us know is the prospect of a nuclear Iran. That is of great concern to every nation in the world. Nonproliferation of nuclear weapons is a principal tenet of the nation of the world, adopted by the United Nations and treaties. Iran must not be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons, as it would dramatically destabilize the region and threaten American targets in that part of the world. It is important to note that there are some 250,000 Americans within the range of Iranian missiles. And of course, there are untold economic interests of the United States and of the international community.
“Enhanced security cooperation with Israel is one of the many tools we have to help prevent Iran from achieving nuclear weapons and protect assets in the region. This bill strengthens that cooperation in several ways. It authorizes aid for the joint U.S.-Israel Iron Dome defense. A critical investment. It provides Israel with additional weaponry. Again, as a first-line of defense for the United States as well as for Israel. Furthermore, this bill extends loan guarantees for Israel and encourages expanded Israeli role in NATO.
“Mr. Speaker, it is so encouraging to see that even while we may divide on other matters, this House will pass the legislation before us with strong, overwhelming bipartisan support. That sends a message that hopefully cannot be missed. A clarity of purpose expressed by this Congress, the policy-making body of this nation, that speaks for all the people of our nation. Hopefully those who would pose a threat and risk to us and to our allies would take note of that purpose.
“Let us continue to ensure that close U.S.-Israel ties is an issue that unites us as Americans. The House overwhelmingly passed this measure earlier this year, 411 to 2. And now the Senate has sent it back to us for final consideration. I congratulate my friends, Senator Boxer and the Republican leadership of the Senate as well.
“I hope we can pass it again today. I know we will. And I hope it's with even greater support. And I urge my colleagues to vote yes on this bill. For America, for Israel, for international security.”