IRAN AND LIBYA SANCTIONS ACT OF 1996 (House of Representatives - June 18, 1996)

Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from New Jersey [Mr. Torricelli].

Mr. TORRICELLI. I thank the gentleman for yielding time.

Mr. Speaker, I too, want to congratulate the gentleman from New York [Mr. Gilman], the gentleman from Indiana [Mr. Hamilton] and the work of our committee in bringing this sanctions legislation before the House today. But I would be less than honest if I did not also express some profound disappointment.

If this legislation today had come before the House in an amendable fashion, I would have been offering an amendment to provide that the sanctions against Iran would remain in place not simply until it ceases terrorism against the world but until it respects the rights of its own people. In enacting sanctions against Iraq, Vietnam and Cuba, this body respected the rights of the people in those countries and insisted upon strong sanctions until the war against them, their political rights, their freedom and their safety was respected. Somehow with regard to the Iranian people, despite the deaths of the Baha'is, Christians, Jews, a Moslem majority, we take no such action. Because this bill comes before us on the suspension calendar, that amendment is not possible and indeed it is on the suspension calendar so such amendments are not possible.

It will be difficult to explain to Iranian-Americans and indeed one day to the people of Iran when they ask, `You took sanctions to defend yourselves, why did you not take them to respect us?'

Second, Mr. Speaker, I also express profound disappointment because this is not the same legislation that left the Committee on International Relations. We had sanctions against Libya but they were mandatory. Until Colonel Qadhafi handed over to international justice those who were responsible for Pan Am 103, there were going to be sanctions, no ands, ifs, or buts. But between the cup and the lip, they became optional. A sigh of relief in Tripoli, and, frankly, Mr. Speaker, a difficult explanation in my State to the 37 families who thought we were going to have mandatory sanctions and now are left at home wondering why.

Mr. Speaker, I have participated in many proud and principled moments on this floor when this Congress has taken strong positions. I am glad today that we, if we alone in the world, stand up to Iran and Libya in their injustice. But frankly we could have done more, for Iranians locked in the prison of their own country who want someone to stand up not only to international terrorism but domestic abuse as well, and to those poor families left wondering why there is an option in standing up to Qadhafi.