5:39 PM EDT

Howard L. Berman, D-CA 28th

Mr. BERMAN. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on the bill under consideration.

5:39 PM EDT

Howard L. Berman, D-CA 28th

Mr. BERMAN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this bill and yield myself as much time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, the United States has a wide variety of foreign policy tools to promote the national security of the United States. While these tools are often referred to as ``soft power,'' they represent such diverse mechanisms as enhancing ties with friendly countries, ensuring that U.S. exports are regarded positively by prospective customers, ensuring that our policies reflect our values, and using U.S. assistance to stem the wave of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction that threaten

our very homeland.

The bipartisan legislation before the House today, cosponsored by the distinguished ranking member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, represents a new and important initiative to accomplish all these missions.

Title I of H.R. 5916 reforms the Arms Export Control process, based on proposals made by Mr. Sherman and Mr. Manzullo as introduced in H.R. 4246, the Defense Trade Controls Performance Improvement Act of 2007 to create consistency in our export policy. It also provides for a strategic review of U.S. export control policies to help ensure they promote the protection of human rights.

It also amends the Arms Export Control Act to ensure that our close allies, South Korea and Israel, get the same expedited licensing review that our NATO allies, Australia, New Zealand and Japan currently enjoy. In this regard, the bill partially draws from H.R. 5443, the United States-Republic of Korea Cooperation Act of 2008, which was introduced by our colleagues, Mr. Royce and Mrs. Tauscher of California.

In addition, in order to address recent major sales of defense articles and services to countries in the Middle East, the bill insures that Israel will maintain its qualitative military edge against whatever security threats it may face, codifying this important principle into law for the first time. It also authorizes the security assistance to Israel, including implementing the recent U.S.-Israel Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Security Assistance.

It's only fitting that as Israel commemorates the 60th anniversary of its founding, the United States renews and strengthens its relationship with our most important friend in the region. Israel is a democratic island of stability in a sea of chaos, chaos which we continue to see just this week this neighboring Lebanon. It deserves all the support we can muster.

Finally, title III of this legislation provides for a limited waiver of current sanctions to support and accelerate U.S. efforts to eliminate North Korea's nuclear program. The waiver would apply to portions of what is commonly called the Glenn Amendment.

Glenn Amendment sanctions keep the Department of Energy from funding its own ongoing work on disabling and dismantling North Korea's nuclear program, including removing plutonium in the next phase of this process, as well as verifying that Pyongyang is living up to its commitments.

Until now, a flexible but limited fund at the Department of State has paid for this work. Continued exclusive use of this State Department mechanism will undermine the ability of the United States to urgently respond to unexpected opportunities to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons elsewhere in the world.

Title III of our bill allows for more rational funding and planning of these activities without giving the administration a blank check. It provides a narrow, carefully tailored authority. It also requires the administration to document for Congress each year the need for keeping this authority in place.

Title III also includes a provision authored by ranking member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen that reinforces U.S. policy regarding removing North Korea from the State Department's list of countries supporting terrorism.

[Time: 17:45]

The conditions laid out in that provision include certification that North Korea no longer is engaged in transferring to other countries any technology that enables the development or acquisition of nuclear weapons. The provision also underscores the importance of keeping the agreement laid out in the Six-Party talks, and it states that North Korea must agree to allow participation of the International Atomic Energy Agency in ensuring that the Yongbyon nuclear reactor is shut down and stays that

way.

I pledge to this House that the Committee on Foreign Affairs will continue to keep a close eye on the implementation of the Six-Party Denuclearization Agreement. It is entirely possible that North Korea's own actions may sour the deal. However, in the interest of U.S. and global security, we need to forge ahead and accomplish what we can now.

Mr. Speaker, this is a good bill. I urge all of my colleagues in joining me in supporting this important legislation.

COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES,

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,

Washington, DC, May 12, 2008.

Hon. HOWARD L. BERMAN,

Chairman, Committee on Foreign Affairs, Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC.

DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: I write to confirm our mutual understanding regarding H.R. 5916, ``To reform the administration of the Arms Export Control Act, and for other purposes.'' This legislation contains subject matter within the jurisdiction of the House Committee on Armed Services.

Our Committee recognizes the importance of H.R. 5916 and the need for the legislation to move expeditiously. Therefore, while we have a valid claim to jurisdiction over this legislation, the Committee on Armed Services will waive further consideration of H.R. 5916. I do so with the understanding that by waiving further consideration of the bill, the Committee does not waive any future jurisdictional claims over similar measures. In the event of a conference with the Senate on this bill, the Committee

on Armed Services reserves the right to seek the appointment of conferees. [Page: H3744]

I would appreciate the inclusion of this letter and a copy of the response in your Committee's report on H.R. 5916 and in the Congressional Record during consideration of the measure on the House floor.

Very truly yours,

Ike Skelton,

Chairman.

--

COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS,

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,

Washington, DC, May 12, 2008.

Hon. IKE SKELTON,

Chairman, Committee on Armed Services, Rayburn House Office Bldg., Washington, DC.

DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you for your letter regarding H.R. 5916, the Security Assistance and Arms Export Control Reform Act of 2008.

I appreciate your willingness to work cooperatively on this legislation. I'recognize that the bill contains provisions that fall within the jurisdiction of the Committee on Armed Services. I agree that the inaction of your Committee with respect to the bill does not in any way prejudice the Armed Services Committee's jurisdictional interests and prerogatives regarding this bill or similar legislation.

Further, as to any House-Senate conference on the bill, I understand that your Committee reserves the right to seek the appointment of conferees for consideration of portions of the bill that are within the Committee's jurisdiction.

I will ensure that our exchange of letters is included in my Committee's report on the bill and in the Congressional Record during consideration on the House floor. I look forward to working with you on this important legislation. If you wish to discuss this matter further, please contact me or have your staff contact my staff.

Cordially,

Howard L. Berman,

Chairman.

I reserve the balance of my time.

5:45 PM EDT

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-FL 18th

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I also rise in strong support of H.R. 5916, the Security Assistance and Arms Export Control Reform Act of 2008. Among this legislation's provisions is language I offered which was incorporated into the original text regarding North Korea's nuclear programs and the ongoing Six-Party talks.

We have heard in recent days about North Korea's hand-over of 18,000 pages of so-called logs concerning its plutonium extraction activity at the Yongbyon nuclear reactor. However, let's not be fooled yet again by North Korea or by those seeking an agreement with this regime at any and all costs.

These logs, according to many regional and nonproliferation experts, do not mark any substantive progress towards nuclear disarmament. For starters, the reporting is limited to North Korea's plutonium-based nuclear facilities and not the totality of its nuclear weapons program as called for under the February 2007 Six-Party agreement whereby North Korea commits to completely disarming itself in exchange for certain concessions from the West.

To address these important issues, the language I drafted, which was incorporated into title III of the bill before us, clarifies and reinforces the conditions that North Korea must meet before it can be removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism and before related sanctions can be removed. No new conditions have been added. However, this bill does specify that North Korea must take verifiable actions regarding all of its nuclear activities before such an important concession is granted

to this duplicitous regime.

These requirements, Mr. Speaker, include ceasing to provide nuclear assistance to countries such as Syria and Iran, providing a complete and correct declaration of all of its nuclear programs, and in addition to U.S. verification, agreeing to the participation of the International Atomic Energy Agency in monitoring and verifying the shutdown and sealing of the nuclear facility at Yongbyon.

Given North Korea's abysmal record in keeping its promises, verification of its declarations and actions is of central importance to any agreement. For that reason, this bill also contains language in title III that requires the State Department to submit a report to the committee describing the methods and actions that the U.S. will use to verify North Korea's declarations regarding its nuclear facilities, describing all formal and informal agreements regarding verification, and documenting

any objections regarding these measures that have been expressed by North Korea.

This bill also strengthens U.S. national security interests and assistance to our strong ally, Israel. It requires the administration to perform an ongoing assessment of Israel's qualitative military edge and authorizes an increase in U.S. Foreign Military Financing that is consistent with the August 2007 U.S.-Israel memorandum on military assistance.

These provisions are of vital importance because, as we all know, Israel is surrounded by a multitude of threats which threatens its very survival. Radical Islamic jihadists in Gaza are continuing to launch large numbers of powerful, accurate, and deadly rockets at Israel civilians and have smuggled weapons, cash, and armed militants from Egypt through underground tunnels. Palestinian extremists continue to carry out attacks inside Israel itself, including the murder of eight people at a yeshiva

in Jerusalem this past March, which included one American.

In the aftermath of the summer 2006 war launched by Hezbollah against Israel, this Islamic militant group continues its reign of terror made possible by aid from Iran and Syria, both sworn enemies of Israel, both state sponsors of terrorism, both seeking a nuclear capability, and both receiving support from the regime in North Korea.

According to a Congressional Research Service report finalized just last week and prepared at my request, North Korea's relationship with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, an entity involved in proliferation activities and in supporting Islamic extremists, appears to be in two areas: One, coordination and support of Hezbollah; and two, cooperation in ballistic missile development.

And turning to Syria, Mr. Speaker, CIA Director Michael Hayden was recently quoted as saying that the nuclear reactor the Syrian regime was building with assistance from North Korea could have produced enough plutonium for one or two nuclear weapons within 1 year of beginning operations.

Then there is the growing menace from Iran's radical Islamist regime. Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently reminded us that Iran ``is hellbent on acquiring nuclear weapons.'' As it aggressively pursues the nuclear option, the regime in Tehran still continues to call for Israel to be wiped off the map.

Thus, the provisions in this bill enhancing our relationship with Israel are critical to Israel's security and to our own vital interests in the region. This bill also advances U.S. national security and economic competitiveness by including language derived from legislation introduced by Mr. Sherman of California and Mr. Manzullo promoting long-overdue reforms in the licensing of defense exports by the State Department. It also significantly strengthens congressional oversight

over a range of issues requiring the Executive Branch to fully consult with our committee before undertaking any actions covered by this legislation.

Lastly, drawing upon an initiative led by Mr. Royce of California and strongly supported by Secretary of State Rice, it upgrades the foreign military sales, FMS, status of our staunch ally, the Republic of Korea. The bill also appropriately affords the same status to our close defense relationship with Israel.

Mr. Speaker, this bill is a strong, bipartisan effort unanimously adopted by our Committee on Foreign Affairs. It is the appropriate vehicle to address the significant policy changes on North Korea that the administration is requesting. It is my hope and expectation that we allow the legislative process to take its appropriate course and that we will not seek to circumvent the authority of the Committee on Foreign Affairs or to undermine this bill by attaching broad waiver language regarding

North Korea to either the pending supplemental appropriations bill or the national defense authorization bill.

I urge my colleagues to support this carefully crafted, much needed, and bipartisan legislation.

I reserve the balance of our time.

5:53 PM EDT

Brad Sherman, D-CA 27th

Mr. SHERMAN. I thank the gentleman from California.

Mr. Speaker, this legislation includes the text of H.R. 4246, the Defense Trade [Page: H3745]

Controls Improvement Act of 2008, which was introduced by myself and Mr. Manzullo, and it is Title I, subtitle A of this bill.

This subtitle grew out of hearings in our subcommittee, the Subcommittee on Terrorism Nonproliferation and Trade, which were held last July. I want to thank Chairman Berman for including the revised text of H.R. 4246 into this larger piece of legislation. I want to thank Mr. Manzullo for his efforts in crafting our original legislation, and I want to thank Mr. Ed Royce, ranking member of the Subcommittee on Terrorism Nonproliferation and Trade, for his work as well.

The Defense Trade Controls Improvement Act, which is part of this larger legislation, seeks to address past performance failings and, most importantly, understaffing of the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, the State Department agency responsible for adjudicating licenses for commercial arms sales. This agency was found to have more than 10,000 open cases at the end of 2006. Only an unsustainable winter offensive where leaves were canceled and overtime was made mandatory and people were

moved in from other areas allowed this agency to reduce this huge backlog. Licenses had languished for months, not because they raised significant national security or foreign policy concerns in most cases, but because they simply sat in someone's in box unattended.

Why has the State Department consistently underfunded and understaffed the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls? I believe that there is simply an institutional bias in the State Department toward work that is more highbrow, more likely to be the subject of a seminar at the Woodrow Wilson's School of Diplomacy. But this work, the work of licensing munitions exports, is of critical importance; arguably there is nothing more important done by the State Department. And Congress provides typically

over $1 billion to the relevant account which can be used by the State Department for a whole variety of staffing, yet they have consistently understaffed this very important function.

What the bill will do is basically add a couple of dozen licensing officers and avoid this tendency of the State Department to understaff the portion of the State Department which licenses munitions exports.

Why is this licensing process so important? Well, if we say ``yes'' and issue a license and make the wrong decision, the harm is obvious. We have sent the wrong technology to the wrong country which may hurt our military or the military of our allies in the future. But there is also enormous harm if we unduly delay or wrongfully deny an application. It means we lose jobs in the United States; it means our interoperability with our allies is diminished because they won't have American munitions

and therefore, won't be able to operate as effectively with our military as they could; it can rupture or hurt our relationship with allies if we wrongfully do not export or unduly delay their request to purchase American munitions, and perhaps most importantly, when we don't act quickly and people in other countries buy their munitions elsewhere, we are building the munitions industry of other countries.

And what is the effect of that? More lost jobs for the United States, more losses on interoperability, and most of all, an undercutting of our policy objectives because once those munitions industries are well established in other countries, they will not be subject to any U.S.-State Department oversight and they may export to third countries things that we would not.

So right now the relevant State Department agency has roughly 40 licensing officers available to adjudicate 85,000 cases expected to be received this year. This bill will beef up the staffing by the third quarter of fiscal year 2010 so that there will be one licensing officer for every 1,250 applications that are based on what we anticipate to be the workload that year.

[Time: 18:00]

That is to say, we will go from roughly 40 licensing officers to roughly 68 licensing officers. This is hardly overstaffing.

The Department of Commerce performs a similar function with regard, not to munitions, but rather, dual-use exports. The relevant part of the Department of Commerce deals with one-third as many applications that has five times the staffing. Clearly, we need those 68 licensing officers at the State Department.

This bill also requires a complete strategic review of our arms export control system, a policy review that has not occurred since 9/11.

The bill codifies the administration directives with respect to processing times for licenses with respect to export of hardware to our allies. Our exporters will have reasonable assurance that licenses will be adjudicated, not necessarily approved, but adjudicated within 60 days unless there are extenuating circumstances.

5:59 PM EDT

Brad Sherman, D-CA 27th

Mr. SHERMAN. This bill does not include any provisions clarifying the jurisdiction over civilian aircraft parts since the State Department has issued a proposed rule, designed to provide a bright line for those decisions.

Finally, I would like to note that improvement in the operations of the State Department office have already occurred, in part in response to the hearings we held in July of 2007.

I hope this bill will further improve our licensing process. It is not for us to tell the State Department that they need to have one licensing officer for every 1,250 applications is not being overly assertive. When we provide over $1 billion to the relevant account, we ought to provide some guidance as to how that money should be spent.

I thank the gentleman for including our provisions in the larger bill.

6:00 PM EDT

Brad Sherman, D-CA 27th

Mr. SHERMAN. This bill does not include any provisions clarifying the jurisdiction over civilian aircraft parts since the State Department has issued a proposed rule, designed to provide a bright line for those decisions.

Finally, I would like to note that improvement in the operations of the State Department office have already occurred, in part in response to the hearings we held in July of 2007.

I hope this bill will further improve our licensing process. It is not for us to tell the State Department that they need to have one licensing officer for every 1,250 applications is not being overly assertive. When we provide over $1 billion to the relevant account, we ought to provide some guidance as to how that money should be spent.

I thank the gentleman for including our provisions in the larger bill.

6:01 PM EDT

Ed Royce, R-CA 40th

Mr. ROYCE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I might consume.

This measure before us addresses a number of objectives, I think all of them related to security assistance, and one of those is reform of the State Department's export control office. I think all of us know that it's been far too long that this office has been antiquated. It's been incapable of functioning well in a world of rapidly evolving technology, and what we need to do is a better job facilitating exports by focusing on those items that pose a true risk to our national security. This

measure attempts to do that. It prevents those exports, while allowing U.S.-made exports to markets overseas.

I'd also like to thank Chairman Berman for including the key elements of H.R. 5443, which is the United States-Republic of Korea Defense Cooperation Improvement Act, in this underlying legislation. And this bill, which was authored by myself and Representative Tauscher, upgrades South Korea's military procurement status. It streamlines defense sales to South Korea. It puts Seoul basically on the same plane as members of NATO and Australia and New Zealand and Japan, and thus,

it improves our defense cooperation. I think it's interesting that our top commander in Korea called it ``bizarre and strange'' to use his words that South Korea doesn't already enjoy this status.

Mr. Speaker, the U.S.-South Korean alliance I think is quite distinct. With a Mutual Defense Treaty that dates back to 1953, Korea and the U.S. form the most integrated alliance I think of interoperable forces. On the Korean Peninsula, interoperability by the way is not just a buzz word for the military forces there. It's a real life practice, and passage of this legislation would help cement that interoperability.

I'd also like to recognize the ranking member of the committee, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, for the inclusion in this bill of important language regarding North Korea and its nuclear program. The language in the underlying bill smoothes the way for dismantlement activities in North Korea, but it makes it clear that Congress expects a complete declaration on North Korean activities. This includes not just its plutonium program but its uranium program as well and proliferation business as well as

the uranium. The intelligence community assesses that this activity, by the way, continues to this day, and indeed, North Korea is helping to fuel an arms race in the Middle East.

So this bill includes important language on verification, which despite the rhetoric has not been taken seriously by the administration to date. [Page: H3746]

I reserve the balance of my time.

6:04 PM EDT

Don Manzullo, R-IL 16th

Mr. MANZULLO. Mr. Speaker, we have a unique opportunity today to improve national security, support our foreign policy interests, and help American manufacturers.

H.R. 5916 is a product of nearly 18 months of work. We closely worked with the executive branch, the business community and non-proliferation nongovernment organizations. Without this legislation, foreign customers will continue to search out products that are ITAR-free to avoid being entangled in U.S. export control laws. The process improvements in this bill will make U.S. manufacturers more competitive in the international marketplace, creating and retaining American jobs, and supporting economic

growth here in the United States.

This legislation permits the State Department's Directorate of Defense Trade Controls to hire more staff, reducing the backlog of defense trade license applications and improving our scrutiny of the most sensitive technologies.

The bill creates a special licensing authorization for American-made spare and replacement parts. It also establishes some goals for licensing processing, including a 7-day deadline for defense trade licenses for those countries who support our combat, peacekeeping or humanitarian operations.

I appreciate the Foreign Affairs Committee's efforts, particularly the outstanding leadership of my good friend from California, Mr. Sherman, on this very delicate issue. I urge my colleagues to support this bill.