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Peter J. Visclosky

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Congressional Record entries

Entry Title Date
Approval Of Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action September 16, 2015
Peter Visclosky, D-IN
"Mr. Speaker, as the Ranking Member on the Defense Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, I am acutely aware of the harmful influence the Islamic Republic of Iran and its proxies have on the security situation in the Greater Middle East. Simply put, Iran pursues policies that threaten U.S. strategic interests and goals throughout the Middle East, often by enflaming sectarian tensions that are exploited by violent extremist elements in the region. However, despite my clear and deep mistrust of Iran, I firmly support the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). This hard-fought multilateral agreement will severely limit Iran's nuclear ambitions, establish a verifiable and robust inspection regime, allow for the timely reinstatement of sanctions for violations of this agreement, and in no way limit U.S. military options. If fully implemented and rigorously enforced, the JCPOA will result in the removal of a source of risk and uncertainty within the region for the foreseeable future. I believe this will substantially increase the security for our nation and all of our regional allies. Under the JCPOA, Iran's access to nuclear material will be significantly curtailed from what we know exists today. Specifically, Iran will not produce or acquire either highly enriched uranium or weapons-grade plutonium for at least 15 years, and they will reduce their stockpile of low enriched uranium by 98 percent, from 12,000 kilograms to 300 kilograms. Additionally, two-thirds of Iran's centrifuges will be removed from nuclear facilities, to be secured and constantly monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Also important to note is the commitment Iran has made under the agreement to not pursue certain research and development programs directly linked to the development of a nuclear weapon. All told, these restrictions significantly increase the amount of time Iran would need to produce enough fissile material for a weapon and to build a nuclear device. The agreement provides for the establishment of a verifiable and robust inspection system, including constant monitoring of Iran's known nuclear facilities throughout the entire chain of development, from the uranium mines to its centrifuges. Access to the supply chain makes it improbable that Iran could establish a covert nuclear program without detection. Further, the JCPOA ensures continuous monitoring of Iran's declared nuclear facilities and IAEA inspectors can request access to any location they suspect is involved with nuclear activities, including military sites. In anticipation of difficulties with access, the JCPOA contains a dispute resolution mechanism should Iran deny the IAEA access to any site. While the time allowed for the dispute resolution process has been criticized as too lengthy, I am certain any suspicious site will receive the full attention of U.S. observation assets during that period. Additionally, nuclear inspection experts express the utmost confidence that IAEA environmental sampling would detect the presence of any nuclear material. In order to receive new sanctions relief, Iran must satisfy IAEA demands about the possible military dimensions of its nuclear program, dismantle the vast majority of its uranium capability, and remove the core from the Arak reactor. To receive full relief from the remaining sanctions, Iran must continue meeting commitments for the years agreed to in the JCPOA. If the terms of the agreement are not met at any time, the JCPOA provides for the ability to re-impose both unilateral and multilateral nuclear-related sanctions. And notably, the agreement allows the U.S. and its European allies to re-impose United Nations sanctions over the objections of any member of the Security Council, including China or Russia. Further, the JCPOA only applies to nuclear-related sanctions. The United States will maintain several strong sanctions authorities due to Iran's designation as a state sponsor of terrorism and for its abysmal record on human rights. For example, U.S. sanctions will continue to apply to several top-level officials in Iran's security apparatus, to the transfer of weapons of mass destruction technologies, missile technologies, and conventional weapons. Finally, the agreement in no way constrains the U.S. military options at our disposal, as has been repeatedly pointed out by General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in testimony before Congress. I cannot argue that the JCPOA is perfect, and I share the frustration expressed by its opponents with its limited scope. In particular, I would have preferred if the agreement kept the constraints on Iran's nuclear program for longer periods of time, further reduced the number of operational centrifuges, did not allow for the future elimination of sanctions on conventional arms and ballistic missiles, contained restrictions on Iran's use of the sanctions relief, and addressed the detention of American citizens in Iran. However, in any negotiation, especially one with many sovereign nations, each having their own economic and security considerations, some compromise is necessary. Critically, I believe the agreement reached accomplishes the goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. I fundamentally disagree with those supporters of the deal who have stated that ``war'' will be the immediate result if the agreement is rejected, and find that opponents of the deal have only presented alternatives that are best described as delusional. Rather, I concur with the sentiments of my esteemed friend, and former Senator, Richard Lugar, who recently wrote that Congressional rejection of the Iran deal would, ``kill the last chance for Washington to reach a verifiable Iranian commitment not to build a nuclear weapon,'' and, ``destroy the effective coalition that brought Iran to the negotiating table.'' We cannot reasonably expect foreign nations, even our closest allies, to continue making costly sacrifices at our demand if the U.S. unilaterally withdraws from its commitment to the JCPOA. And I can say with some confidence that China and Russia will have no hesitation to resume trade with Iran if the agreement were rejected. Iran negotiated because of crippling sanctions and a unified international community, neither of which will exist should Congress reject this agreement. The ultimate success or failure of the JCPOA will be determined by time and verification based on Iranian behavior. However, it is vital for the duration of the agreement that the U.S. leads the international community to maintain focus on Iran's compliance and ensure that Iran does not undermine regional stability through other pathways, negating the security gains from this agreement. To accomplish this, we must remain steadfast in our commitments to all of our regional partners, including Israel, and help improve their capacity to counter Iran and mitigate the effects of their malign activity. Additionally, we must keep combining diplomacy, economic pressure, and the resolve to keep military options on the table. Assuming the agreement is affirmed, I ask all to constructively work to improve the security situation in the Middle East rather than using all their energy to undermine the agreement. We cannot rely on force of arms alone to bring lasting stability to any region of our world. And I hope that the exhaustive multilateral negotiations that led to the JCPOA will serve as a template for future U.S. and international engagement on other outstanding issues that have led to instability and violence in the region."
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month September 16, 2015
Peter Visclosky, D-IN
"Mr. Speaker, it is with great respect and admiration that I rise to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month and its 2015 theme, Honoring Our Heritage. Building Our Future. The people of the United States will once again celebrate the histories, cultures, and traditions of our Hispanic American brothers and sisters from September 15, 2015, through October 15, 2015. Hispanic Heritage Month begins each year on September 15, the anniversary of the independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile observe their independence days on September 16 and September 18. Since its inception as National Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968, which later became National Hispanic Heritage Month in 1988, Americans have taken this time to not only pay tribute to the rich culture and traditions of Hispanic Americans, but also to reflect on the numerous contributions they have made that have led to improvements within their communities, and in turn, a better America. Our nation's success is reliant upon the rich heritage and cultural diversity of its people. Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the many Hispanic leaders and members of our communities who have added to the prosperity of the United States in every facet of society including medicine, business, arts and entertainment, sports, education, politics, and the military. Mr. Speaker, at this time, I ask you and my other distinguished colleagues to join me in recognizing Hispanic Heritage Month. Throughout America's history, present, and future, the Hispanic community has played and continues to play a major role in enriching the quality of life and culture of our great nation, and for their outstanding contributions they are worthy of the highest praise."
Commending The Recipients Of The 2015 Nipsco Luminary Awards September 16, 2015
Peter Visclosky, D-IN
"Mr. Speaker, it is with great respect and admiration that I rise to commend the recipients of this year's NIPSCO Luminary Awards. The Luminary Awards were created to honor individuals or organizations throughout the community that have displayed exemplary leadership in the areas of community leadership, economic development, education, environmental stewardship, and public safety. This year's honorees include Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, Starke County Initiative for Lifelong Learning, Porter County Career and Technical Center, and the Tri-Town Safety Village. For their extraordinary contributions to their communities and throughout the region, the honorees will be recognized at a ceremony on Thursday, September 17, 2015, at NiSource Corporate Headquarters in Merrillville, Indiana."
Celebrating The Town Of Hebron’S 125Th Anniversary September 16, 2015
Peter Visclosky, D-IN
"Mr. Speaker, it is with sincere pride that I recognize the town of Hebron, Indiana, as town officials and the entire community celebrate the very special occasion of its 125th anniversary. Prior to its incorporation in March of 1890, Hebron was originally known as the ``Corners'' based on the crossing of two roads at its location. Although the town's first three attempts at incorporation were unsuccessful, the area thrived and continued to grow, and the first school was constructed in 1842. The year of 1845 was significant in that the first constructed log house was completed within the community, while the petition for a local post office was also submitted by Reverend Wilson Blaine during that year. The petition would be approved within a year's time and named Hebron after Reverend Blaine's congregation. A new era arose in 1863 with the construction of the Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Saint Louis Railroad, linking the community by rail with Chicago's business and economic opportunities. Residents could now leave for business in Chicago in the morning and return in the evening. The years to come would mark an exciting time for Hebron and for all of Northwest Indiana. Although it was not yet incorporated, the census taken in 1886 showed that the area had a population of 663. By its centennial year in 1990, Hebron had demonstrated a steady growth with a population of 2696 residents. This trend has continued throughout the years, as the latest census data indicates that Hebron's population has reached 3700. In celebration of the town's 125th anniversary, festivities will be held in Hebron during the annual Block Party for the Town on Saturday, September 19, 2015. In commemoration of this milestone, there will be a walking tour of community homes built in the 1800s, and the town's museum will be open for residents, visitors, and friends to reflect on the rich history of Hebron. In addition, entertainment and a grand fireworks display will take place for all to enjoy. A time capsule will also be buried near the Hebron clock tower to mark this special anniversary. For their devotion to their town's memory and prosperity, I would like to take the time to acknowledge Town Council President Don Ensign, Vice President Dave Peeler, council members, Pete Breuckman, Mike Mantai, and Keith Cunningham, Clerk-Treasurer Terri Waywood. Mr. Speaker, I ask that you and my distinguished colleagues join me in honoring the 125th anniversary of the town of Hebron, Indiana. For 125 years, the people of Hebron have demonstrated a level of pride in and service to their community that is unmatched. The town and its people have been an integral part of the Northwest Indiana community for generations, and I have been proud to serve as their representative."
Ensuring Tax Exempt Organizations The Right To Appeal Act June 12, 2015
Peter Visclosky, D-IN
"Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to H.R. 1314, which allows for fast track Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) for trade agreements entered into prior to July 1, 2021, including the prospective Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP). Past trade agreements have outsourced American jobs and caused irreparable harm to our domestic manufacturing base. I believe that TPP, T-TIP, and other potential future agreements will be no different. Throughout my career, I have voted against unfair trade agreements. I voted against the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was sold on the promise of creating 200,000 American jobs. After enactment, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) estimates that America lost 682,900 jobs, primarily in the manufacturing sector. I voted against the Korea Free Trade Agreement, which was sold on the promise of creating 70,000 American jobs. After enactment, again the EPI estimates that America lost 60,000 jobs. The future trade agreements we are discussing today are being sold on the promise of creating more American jobs. That argument may continue to work for some. But I am not buying it. There has been a bipartisan failure, administration after administration, to address the effects of unfair trade on domestic manufacturers. Democrat and Republican administrations have been wrong to support irresponsible trade agreements in the past that have exacerbated the problems faced by American workers. President Obama is wrong in this instance. Congress should instead support trade agreements that substantially improve our existing trade laws and enhance our ability to enforce them in a timely fashion. We should only support trade agreements that include strong enforcement procedures, address currency manipulation, provide environmental protections, and protect American manufacturers from competing unfairly with exploited foreign workers. It is wrong to expect American workers to compete against state-owned enterprises that have unlimited government resources and violate our free market trade laws. American manufacturing and the steel industry are struggling every day to keep their footing in the fight against unfair trade. Earlier this year, I co-chaired a Congressional Steel Caucus hearing where industry and labor representatives unanimously agreed that America's steel sector is being systematically targeted by trading partners that use the U.S. market as their dumping ground. Just this month, six American steel producers, including two producers with facilities in my district, filed anti-dumping and countervailing duty petitions against foreign countries engaged in illegal trade practices. While I am pleased that American steel producers are taking action to hold these countries accountable, I am concerned that this case will not stop the ongoing trend of countries dumping their products into U.S. markets. I have frequently testified in front of the International Trade Commission (ITC), and was pleased that in 2009 the ITC ruled against China in an Oil Country Tubular Goods case. However, last year I testified again in a similar case involving these same products. After duties were imposed on China in 2009, other countries, such as Vietnam, Thailand, Turkey, and South Korea, started dumping the same product on our shores. This is a dangerous trend and Congress and the Administration must stop such practices from continuing. I am encouraged that the House has taken some action to address unfair trade practices by including provisions in the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 that would strengthen our antidumping and countervailing duty laws. But while these provisions are a step in the right direction, they are not enough. TPA does not include strong, enforceable currency reforms, and instead allows the Administration, without any clear guidelines, to determine how best to address currency manipulators. TPA does nothing to ensure that strong environmental protections will be included in future trade agreements. TPA does not crack down on worker exploitation or lay out a roadmap to ensure countries included in future trade agreements are in compliance with international labor and human rights standards. Such economic inhibitors should be rejected. Instead, we should focus on investing in and encouraging vigorous domestic manufacturing. Mr. Speaker, steel is the economic backbone of the First Congressional District of Indiana, the foundation of our manufacturing base, and an essential element of our national defense. I am proud to represent the workers who make this steel every single day. Today, I ask that my colleagues stand up for American workers and oppose H.R. "

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