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

Mrs. JOHNSON of Connecticut. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my concern with the precedent that could be set by provisions of H.R. 3107, legislation originating in the International Relations Committee, and referred to the Ways and Means Committee on which I serve.

No one argues that the goal of bringing the Pan Am 103 bombers to justice, nor with containing international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We must find ways to increase United States and international pressure on these rogue nations and the threat they pose to U.S. interests. However, I do have concerns with H.R. 3107's provisions that may rely on unilateral actions rather than multilateral cooperation.

The concept of a secondary boycott was opposed by the United States when the Arab League used it against Israel in the 1970's and 1980's, and remains contrary to the principles endorsed by this very body when it approved NAFTA and GATT. Indeed, U.S. law, most recently enacted in the Export Administration Act, has long prohibited any U.S. person from `complying with or supporting' a foreign boycott against another country.

The use of trade sanctions to accomplish trade law compliance is vital and appropriate but the use of trade sanctions as a foreign policy tool to coerce other sovereign nations to do our bidding breaches America's commitment to preserving independence from international control. It is fundamental to U.S. participation in trade agreements that other governments should not be permitted to dictate business relationships among U.S. firms and citizens, as H.R. 3107 could do for our trading partners.

Mr. Speaker, as the world's greatest exporter, the United States benefits tremendously from free and open trade with our allies. Given our past commitment to an international trading regimen, the United States should not expose United States exporters and investors to possible retaliation through abrogation of international rules, or exacerbate the dispute with our allies over policies toward Iran and Libya. If it becomes possible for countries to dictate each other's policy under threat of trade sanctions, U.S. participation in these important organizations could be threatened.

Put at risk by unilateral U.S. action are the benefits to the U.S. economy created by strong protection of intellectual property rights, the guarantee of competitive bidding opportunities under the Government Procurement Code and dramatic tariff reductions for U.S. exports--all of which were improved and expanded by NAFTA and GATT.

Instead, I would urge that we work to avoid the painful consequences of trade retaliation and continue pressing for additional multilateral action and enforcement of existing agreements. As in the case with the extraterritorial Helms-Burton law which penalizes firms outside the jurisdiction of the United States for trading with Cuba, foreign governments will not permit their firms to comply with such legislation. As we seek to contain and punish terrorists and those states that sponsor them, we do not want to drive a costly wedge between the United States and its allies whose support we are seeking.

While I will be supporting H.R. 3107, I am doing so because it provides the administration adequate discretion in executing the provisions of this bill. Moreover, in doing so, it is my hope that the administration will effectively implement multilateral sanctions against Iran and Libya.

Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Stearns). The question is on the motion offered by the gentleman from New York [Mr. Gilman] that the House suspend the rules and pass the bill, H.R. 3107, as amended.

The question was taken.

Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.

The yeas and nays were ordered.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 5 of rule I and the Chair's prior announcement, further proceedings on this motion will be postponed.