Today, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) spoke on the House Floor urging continued action on H.R. 3738, Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act of 2012. The bill requires the State Department to conduct an assessment of Iran’s presence in the Western Hemisphere and clarify the strategy to confront these threats.
Congressman Higgins is the lead Democrat on the bipartisan legislation which recently passed in the House Foreign Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade. The legislation will now move for full consideration in the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Below is the text of Congressman Higgins’ remarks on the House Floor:
Mr. Speaker, I rise to express my concern about the presence of Hezbollah in the Western Hemisphere.
In the Homeland Security Committee we have heard from experts who testified that Hezbollah, which is a terrorist proxy for Iran, Syria, and Venezuela has an active membership in fourteen North American cities, including in Toronto, which is 90 miles from my Western New York home.
Some dismiss this concern by saying their activities are limited to fundraising. This is not comforting.
So Mr. Speaker I have joined with my colleague Jeff Duncan to introduce H.R. 3783, the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act. Our legislation would call for the State Department to investigate Hezbollah’s presence in the Western Hemisphere and create a long-term strategy for keeping our communities and our nation safe.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say that this bipartisan legislation was unanimously passed in subcommittee. As this bill moves through the House, I urge my colleagues to support our legislation to combat this growing threat.
Hezbollah is listed on the U.S. State Department’s register of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. According to the State Department, the organization, formed in Lebanon in 1982, has taken credit for and is suspected of being involved in a number of direct attacks against United States’ interests and today maintains several thousand members worldwide.
Rep. Higgins is a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security and was recently named Ranking Member of its Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence. He also serves as a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and a member of the U.S. –Canada Interparliamentary Exchange. Higgins’ Western New York district borders Canada.