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RECOGNIZING THE MEXICAN HOLIDAY OF CINCO DE MAYO; HONORING SISTER DOROTHY STANG; RECOGNIZING THE 57TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL; URGING ROMANIA TO PROVIDE FAIR RESTITUTION FOR CONFISCATED PROPERTY; RECOGNIZING THE STEPS INDIA AND PAKISTAN HAVE TAKEN TOWARD BILATERAL PEACE; URGING THE WITHDRAWAL OF ALL SYRIAN FORCES FROM LEBANON; EXPRESSING THE SENSE OF THE HOUSE REGARDING ANTI-SEMITISM AT THE UN; AND WELCOMING THE PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN ON THE OCCASION OF HIS VISIT TO THE UNITED STATES
TUESDAY, MAY 18, 2005
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, DC. The Committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:34 a.m., in room 2172, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Henry J. Hyde (Chairman of the Committee) presiding.
Chairman HYDE. The Committee will come to order. The business meeting of the Committee will come to order. We have a series of noncontroversial bills on the agenda. It is the intention of the Chair to consider these measures en bloc and, by unanimous consent, authorize the Chair to seek consideration of the bills under suspension of the rules.
All Members are given leave to insert remarks on the measures into the record, should they choose to do so.
The Chair now recognizes Mr. Lantos, the Ranking Democrat.
Mr. LANTOS. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for giving me an opportunity to say a few words about the resolution relating to Lebanon. I support all of the resolutions, and I merely wish to make a statement indicating my future intention concerning this subject.
The resolution before the Committee expresses Congress' ongoing concern that the withdrawal of Syrian troops and the intelligence officials from Lebanon be verifiably complete, and that the Lebanese people be allowed to choose their own leaders freely and fairly.
I commend my colleague and friend, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, for bringing these important issues before the Committee.
I join with all of my colleagues in admiration of Lebanese people power, which defied the odds and succeeded in expelling all, or at least nearly all, of Syria's uniformed forces. I welcome what we all hope will be a peaceful transition to sovereign democratic rule in Lebanon.
The Lebanese people are scheduled to vote for the new Parliament on four consecutive Sundays beginning May 29th. This is an important and welcome step. It is nevertheless regrettable that they apparently will conduct their elections according to a law passed on the full Syrian occupation in the year 2000, which could stack the deck in favor of the pro-Syrian elements, particularly Hezbollah. We hope that the wisdom of the Lebanese people, displayed in vast numbers, will override the structural deficiencies of the law.
I fully endorse this resolution's advocacy of United States assistance to help Lebanon restore democratic rule, including the separation of powers, the rule of law, and the respect for fundamental freedoms. It is firmly in our interest to support this process, as the flourishing of democracy in Lebanon will no doubt have a multiplier effect throughout the region.
Mr. Chairman, Syrian withdrawal and the restoration of democracy in Lebanon absorbs our attention at the moment, but we must not forget that it is also vital that the new government in Lebanon fulfill all of its own obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 1559, that especially includes the requirement that all militias, including Hezbollah, be disarmed and disbanded and that the Government of Lebanon assert its authority over all of Lebanon's territory. We will expect the Lebanese armed forces, as a first step, to put an immediate halt to the flow of arms across the Syrian border to Hezbollah.
Mr. Chairman, as you know, I sponsored legislation passed by Congress 4 years ago with your support, which made a portion of United States aid to Lebanon contingent upon Lebanon's taking control of all of its borders. I do not intend to introduce a similar resolution at this moment, as I am hopeful that the new Lebanese Government, once it gains its footing, will take the necessary actions to demonstrate its adherence to all aspects of UN Security Council Resolution 1559, the resolution that made possible Lebanon's rebirth as a nation.
But I will remain seized with these issues regarding Lebanon's borders and Hezbollah. In the near future, I will introduce a resolution that I hope will demonstrate that this Committee and this Congress share these concerns. The stability of the entire region depends on an end to militia rule in Lebanon and full implementation of Lebanese sovereignty throughout that country on all of its borders.
The resolution before us focuses on certain crucial ingredients of Lebanese sovereignty, the withdrawal of Syrian troops and the holding of free and fair elections. It is an important resolution. I support it, and I urge all of my colleagues to do likewise.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Without objection, the Chairman is authorized to seek consideration that the following measures under suspension of the rules and the amendments, which the Members have before them, will be deemed adopted:
H. Con. Res. 44, Recognizing the historical significance of the Mexican holiday of Cinco de Mayo; H. Con. Res. 89, Honoring the life of Sister Dorothy Stang; H. Con. Res. 149, Recognizing the 57th anniversary of the independence of the State of Israel, as amended; H. Res. 191, Urging the Government of Romania to recognize its responsibilities to provide equitable, prompt, and fair restitution to all religious communities for property confiscated by the former Communist government of Romania; H. Res. 272, Recognizing the historic steps India and Pakistan have taken toward achieving bilateral peace; H. Res. 273, Urging the withdrawal of all Syrian forces from Lebanon, support for free and fair democratic elections in Lebanon, and the development of democratic institutions and safeguards to foster sovereign democratic rule in Lebanon, as amended; H. Res. 282, Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding anti-Semitism at the United Nations and for other purposes; and H. Con. Res. 153, Welcoming His Excellency Hamid Karzai, the President of Afghanistan, on the occasion of his visit to the United States in May 2005 and expressing support for a strong and enduring strategic partnership between the United States and Afghanistan.