As the year winds down and we gather with family and friends for the holidays, it is important we take time to be thankful for what we have in this great country, and remind ourselves there are those who are not as fortunate to live in a nation built on the freedoms we hold so dear.
While I look forward to enjoying the holidays, I also remain focused on the work ahead in the New Year. As Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I am pushing for policies that both strengthen American leadership abroad and enhance the security of our citizens here at home.
Over the course of 2017, Republicans in Congress, in conjunction with President Trump, have worked hard to get the country back on the right path. I am happy to report that we have made significant progress. However, as we continue to pursue policies geared towards protecting America’s interests on the global stage, it is clear there is much work that remains on the road ahead. Let me assure you, I am committed to the task at hand.
As you know, American foreign policy has long been the vehicle used to promote our values abroad, such as equality and liberty. These are values that for decades have served as a beacon of hope for all peaceful individuals of the world who dream of a better and more prosperous future for themselves and their children.
However, instead of welcoming and adopting these values, some nations have worked actively to undermine them. They choose instead to promote policies that suppress their citizens - denying them the same rights enshrined in our Constitution - while fueling instability and provoking chaos outside of their borders. Nations like Iran, North Korea, Russia, and China immediately come to mind.
While we could choose to ignore evil where it exists in the world, I believe America is best off when we confront our international challenges head on. We do this by prioritizing diplomacy to urge bad actors to pursue peaceful policies, forging strong alliances to create pressure to comply with our diplomatic efforts, and if necessary, when all else has failed, promoting our military might to accomplish our mission. American leadership starts at the top, and now as has always been the case, it is critical we have a Commander in Chief who draws a red line and then is willing to enforce it.
As we have seen, the preferred foreign policy of the Obama administration - “strategic patience” - is not the answer. In fact, strategic patience led to the rise of ISIS, a nuclearized regime in North Korea capable of launching a nuclear strike on the United States, and an Iran which has spread its tentacles across the Middle East from Iraq, all the way across Syria and into Lebanon. Under President Obama, our allies did not trust us and our enemies did not fear us.
But as stated by Vice President Pence, the era of strategic patience is over.
Thankfully, we now have a president in the White House who values a strong and robust American foreign policy backed by an equally strong, if not stronger, military. As such, Congress must capitalize on the moment before us and put forth smart policies to contain and deter our enemies, like as Iran.
That is why at the beginning of the New Year, I will be introducing the Iran Human Rights and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act.
Iran is one of the worst human rights abusers in the world, despite being a signatory to international agreements to promote human rights. Additionally, Iran continues to engage in the practice of taking American citizens hostage for political purposes. While you and I are home with our families for the holidays, there are five Americans being detained without trial by the murderous regime in Iran.
This is simply unacceptable.
To fight back, my legislation requires the president to impose harsh sanctions on those in Iran who take hostages to advance their political and military agenda. It also lays out different steps the administration should take in conjunction with our allies to put an end to this practice, including attempts to extradite and convict Iranian officials who are guilty. Lastly, this bill requires the president to impose sanctions on Iranian officials he or she determines are responsible or complicit in gross human rights abuses.
The United States can hardly afford to sit idly by while Iran expands its influence in the Middle East. There are times in which the United State must be comfortable acting alone, but we must recognize we are stronger when our global leadership is rooted in strong alliances based on shared interests.
I look forward to hitting the ground running in January and working with the president to continue restoring American leadership around the world.
As always, it continues to be a great honor to represent you in the United States House of Representatives. Please feel free to visit my website www.mccaul.house.gov for more information on constituent services, legislative updates, my E-Newsletter, and my ongoing work in Congress. I also encourage you to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube to get updates on my work in Washington and the 10th District.
Happy New Year.