Congressman Pallone Statement Opposing H.R. 2362

Jul 23, 2012 Issues: Foreign Affairs and Defense

WASHINGTON DC – Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) today issued the following statement on the House Floor in opposition to H.R. 2362 the Indian Tribal Trade and Investment Demonstration Project Act,  which was debated under suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority for passage. Congressman Pallone opposes the bill because it singles out the Republic of Turkey for preferential investment treatment with Indian Tribes despite Turkey’s recent actions that are contrary towards U.S. interests and a long history of human rights violations:

"I rise to oppose HR 2362, the Indian Tribal Trade and Investment Demonstration Project Act.  To put it quite simply, there is no good reason for passage of this legislation.  In fact, there are a whole host of reasons why this legislation should fail today.

"First, I would like to say that I strongly support efforts to bring economic prosperity to Indian Country.  I have been a long time advocate of Indian Country’s right and power to exercise their sovereignty and pursue economic develop in the ways they choose.  That is why I was glad to vote for H.R. 205, the HEARTH Act.

"The HEARTH Act permits all tribes, not just a select few, to engage in leasing activities without federal oversight under certain circumstances.  Under the HEARTH Act tribes can engage in these activities with both domestic and foreign entities.  Furthermore, the HEARTH Act enjoyed strong bi-partisan support and passed this body on May 15 by a vote of 400 to 0.  The bill then passed the Senate by unanimous consent and now only awaits the President’s signature before it will become law. 

"In contrast, H.R. 2362 singles out the Republic of Turkey for preferential treatment.  Anyone who questions this just needs to turn to the bill itself which states its purpose as: “To facilitate economic development by Indian tribes and encourage investment by Turkish enterprises.”  If this bill didn’t give Turkey special preference what would be the point?  It would be entirely duplicative to what will be law in days.

"The Republic of Turkey acts increasingly hostile to U.S. interests and has a long history of human rights violations.  Turkey is not a country that should be receiving preferential treatment in any sense and certainly not explicitly approved by this Congress.

"Turkey has yet to acknowledge the fact of the Armenian Genocide and reconcile itself with its own history.  The Armenian Genocide is the first genocide of the twentieth century.  Between 1915 and 1923, 1.5 million Armenians were systematically and deliberately killed by the Ottoman Turks. 

"The Armenian Genocide is a dark chapter in history, but it must be remembered and reaffirmed to ensure that not only are the victims and survivors honored, but so that we can make it clear that genocide will never be tolerated, past or present.  This is why we must not stand by as the Republic of Turkey continues their policy of denying the twentieth century’s first genocide.

"It is also very appropriate to remember that this past Friday marked the 38th anniversary of the illegal occupation of Northern Cyprus by Turkey.  On July 20th 1974, Turkey invaded Cyprus in violation of international law and at great cost to the citizens of Cyprus.  Turkish troops established a heavily-armed force which occupied the northern part of Cyprus and which continues to occupy close to 37 percent of Cyprus’ territory. 

"The invasion forced nearly 200,000 Greek Cypriots to flee their homes---making one-third of the Cypriot population refugees in their own country.  Today, Turkey continues to illegally occupy northern Cyprus with a force of 43,000 troops.  This unbelievable number of troops amounts to almost one Turkish soldier for every two Turkish Cypriots. 

"The EU member Cypriot government has made strong efforts to bring this ongoing occupation to a peaceful settlement.  However, the Turkish government from afar continues to push against such peace negotiations by constantly interjecting itself and pressuring the Turkish Cypriots to resist a peaceful settlement for its own military and economic purposes.

"In fact, Turkey has used its bases in northern Cyprus to harass Israeli merchant vessels peacefully engaged, with the cooperation with the Cypriot government, on oil and gas exploration.  Turkey has even threatened the U.S. company, Noble Energy, that has an agreement with the Cypriot government to perform exploration in the region.

"I have presented just a couple of examples as to why Turkey’s policies fly in the face of solid moral standing and threaten U.S. interests abroad.  Legislating preferential treatment for Turkey would be a mistake and only signal that genocide denial, illegal occupation of a U.S. ally and other anti-U.S. policies will be tolerated.

"I am proud to say that this Congress has passed legislation that gives tribes more flexibility in entering into lease agreements that will promote economic development and future vitality.  Today’s bill does not advance this cause; it would simply put Turkey on a pedestal.  I urge my colleagues to oppose this bill and vote NO."

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Contact:
Ray Zaccaro
202-225-4671