WELCOMING PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU; Congressional Record Vol. 161, No. 36
(Senate - March 03, 2015)

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[Pages S1225-S1227]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. HOEVEN. Mr. President, I am here this morning to engage in a 
colloquy with the good Senator from South Carolina. We will be joined 
by the Senators from New Hampshire and Kentucky and perhaps the Senator 
from Arizona.
  The purpose of the colloquy is to welcome Prime Minister Netanyahu 
this morning--who will be speaking in front of Congress--and to talk 
about why it is so important he is joining us today.
  In a few moments we will hear remarks from Israeli Prime Minister 
Benjamin Netanyahu in the House Chamber and welcome him to Congress to 
affirm the friendship between the people of the United States and the 
people of Israel and to assess the threats facing our two democracies.
  Actually, today's speech is not unusual. This is the 115th time that 
a foreign leader has addressed a joint session of Congress. This is the 
seventh time an Israeli Prime Minister will address a joint session of 
Congress. It is Prime Minister Netanyahu's third address to Congress.
  It is not surprising we are hearing from the leader of our ally, 
Israel. Israel is a democracy in a neighborhood of authoritarian 
governments. Prime Minister Netanyahu speaks the language of freedom 
with us today. There can be no doubt of his passion on behalf of the 
people he represents and that makes us take his message very seriously.
  So this joint session is not unusual nor surprising, but that does 
not mean that it is unimportant. In fact, today's speech is profoundly 
important. The partnership between the United States and Israel is 
critical for the security of the Middle East and the world. We need a 
strong U.S.-Israeli partnership to stop Iran from developing a nuclear 
weapon. We need a strong U.S.-Israeli partnership to stand against the 
extremism that is ripping apart nations across the Middle East. We need 
a strong U.S.-Israeli partnership to demonstrate the value of 
democracy, human rights, and the rule of law for societies that are no 
longer satisfied with dictatorships.
  For all of these reasons it is good to have Prime Minister Netanyahu 
here today. It is good to reaffirm the bond between Israelis and 
Americans, and it is good to join hands again with an ally to stand 
against tyranny and extremism. I look forward to hearing from the Prime 
Minister because views directly from Israel are extremely important.
  Since its birth in 1948, Israel has faced one security threat after 
another. Israel's strength and vitality in the face of these threats 
are a testament to the ability of its people and its leaders to head 
off threats to security before they become impossible to overcome. 
There is no substitute for the Israeli view of security in the Middle 
East and the Iranian threat in particular.
  So today represents an important moment to learn how Israel sees its 
own security and understand the next steps for the U.S.-Israeli 
  I now turn to my colleague from South Carolina and ask for his 
comments about this important speech from the Prime Minister of Israel 
  Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, I appreciate being on the floor with the 
Senator from North Dakota who has been very involved in trying to 
secure America against a variety of threats.
  I will get to the heart of the matter. Some people feel the Prime 
Minister should not be here at this time because in a couple weeks 
there will be an election in Israel. They have a parliamentary system. 
They do things differently--they vote for parties, not people--and they 
are having a real contest over there about who should be in charge and 
what coalitions will lead Israel.
  I have a very simple comment: That is for Israelis to decide. They 
decide who they want to run their country. They can vote for the party 
or groups of people who they think best represent their view of Israel. 
That is their business, not mine. My business is to try to find out 
what is best for America when it comes to defending our Nation. That is 
why all of us are on the floor today.
  I don't think I can adequately do my job if I don't hear from the 
Prime Minister of Israel, if he is willing to talk to me. Some people 
may be able to do that. God bless you.
  If someone feels as though now is the time to boycott this speech, if 
they want to send a message about politics in Israel, be my guest. I am 
going to be at this speech to try to learn what to do regarding America 
and Israel concerning the nuclear threat.
  Why do I think it is important for me to be there? I can't think of a 
better voice to tell me what would happen in the region if we get a bad 
deal with the Iranians.
  Israel is in the crosshairs of the Iranian ayatollahs--has been for 
decades--threatening to destroy the State of Israel. I want to hear 
from the people on the ground, Israel in particular, as to what a good 
deal would look like and what a bad deal would look like. I want to 
hear from the Prime Minister of Israel the consequences of a bad deal.
  As to me, I do not trust this administration to negotiate a good 
deal, but maybe I am wrong; and the best way to find out is for 
Congress to look at the deal. If it is a good deal, I will vote for it, 
because the Arabs and Israelis will tell us if this is something we can 
live with. At the end of the day a good deal is a blessing for the 
world, and a bad deal is a nightmare.
  (Mr. COTTON assumed the Chair.)
  So to the good Senator from North Dakota, I not only welcome the 
Prime Minister of Israel to speak to Congress, I am looking forward to 
it, because I hope to learn something that would make me a better 
Senator regarding our own national security. The only thing I can tell 
the American people without any hesitation--ISIL is a threat to us, a 
threat to the region. They are the most barbaric terrorist organization 
roaming the globe today. They represent a direct threat to our 
homeland. But the threat they represent is a distant second to Iran 
having a nuclear weapon. That ought to tell you a lot about how I feel. 
If I can watch TV, as you do every night, and see what ISIL is doing to 
Christians and others throughout the region and say that is secondary 
to Iran, I hope that means something. It means a lot to me. Because if 
Iranians get a nuclear weapon, then every Arab in the region who can 
afford one is going to get a nuclear weapon, and we are on our way to 
  North Korea in the making is what I worry about. The same people who 
are negotiating this deal were negotiating the North Korean deal. 
Congress was absent. Now it is time for Congress to be involved and say 
whether this is a good deal. I have legislation with Senator Corker and 
six Democrats and six Republicans asking that Congress review any deal, 
and I would be curious to see what the Prime Minister thinks about 
  So in summary, this would be the most important decision we make as a 
body, how to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat. This will be the 
most important issue I will deal with as a U.S. Senator, and I have 
been here almost 20 years. The consequence of a bad deal is an absolute 
  If you were to relieve the sanctions tomorrow and gave the Iranians 
the money they were due under sanction relief, do you think they would 
build schools and hospitals or would they continue to pour money into 

[[Page S1226]]

military to disrupt the region and continue to build ICBMs? As I speak, 
without a nuclear weapon Iran is leading an offensive today in Iraq. 
And I know the Presiding Officer of the Senate was a ranger, an 
infantryman in Iraq. Could you ever imagine in your wildest dreams that 
the Iraqi security forces are marrying up with Shia militia and 
Suleimani, the head of the Revolutionary Guard is on the ground in Iraq 
leading the efforts, and we are sitting on the sidelines? You talk 
about a screwed-up foreign policy.
  Are we going to let eight guys negotiate with Iran--the people who 
brought you Iraq and Syria and the mess you see in the region? You feel 
good enough about them doing a deal with the Iranians that you don't 
even look at the deal yourself? This is beyond screwed up, and the 
worst is yet to come. A bad deal. But, maybe the best is yet to come, a 
good deal. I don't know. But I want to hear what Israel believes a good 
deal would look like. And if you don't want to hear that, then, boy, we 
are on different planets as to the consequences of what is going on in 
the world today.
  With that, I would ask a question to the Senator from New Hampshire, 
who has been watching the Iranian behavior on the ground throughout the 
Middle East and the missile program in particular, and ask her what are 
her concerns about Iran with extra money coming into the coffers in 
sanction relief?
  Ms. AYOTTE. I thank the Senator from North Dakota and the Senator 
from South Carolina.
  As I look at where we are right now--first of all, our support for 
Israel and our friendship with Israel--this has been a very strong 
bipartisan issue, and it is an issue that rightly crosses party lines 
because we share the same values, the relationship is very important, 
we share technology, we share intelligence, and we share the concern 
that we do not want the world's worst regime to obtain the world's most 
destructive weapon, and that is the Iranian regime.
  So I want to welcome Prime Minister Netanyahu to the Congress and 
very much listen to what he has to say, because he comes to us in a 
very important time where the administration is negotiating a potential 
agreement with Iran. What we want most of all is that that agreement 
will end Iran's nuclear program and be a real, verifiable, transparent 
agreement, because a good agreement is a blessing, a bad agreement is a 
nightmare. We have to hear from the Prime Minister of Israel, and I 
look forward to hearing what he has to say today about what a good 
agreement looks like.
  But make no mistake about why we must stop the Iranian regime from 
having a nuclear weapon. Because what they are doing around the world 
right now--they are the largest State sponsor of terrorism in the 
world. They have essentially destabilized the Government of Yemen 
through their support of the Houthis there. They have been supporting 
Hezbollah, a terrorist organization. They have been helping the Assad 
regime murder its own people. They have been participating in cyber 
attacks against our interests. This is a regime that has said they want 
to wipe Israel off the map. I can understand--and I want to hear from 
the Prime Minister of Israel--why the people of Israel would say 
``never again'' when they hear those words.
  But make no mistake, this is not just about the security of Israel; 
this is about our security in the United States of America. They have 
called us ``the great Satan,'' and this is an issue that represents a 
threat to our core national security interests, to allow state-
sponsored terrorism to obtain the most destructive weapon in the world. 
That is a danger we cannot afford in our country. It is one of concern. 
It is important that we share with our strong ally, Israel. We need to 
do everything we can in this Congress on a bipartisan basis to ensure 
that never happens. That is why I am honored to be a sponsor of 
bipartisan legislation that would give the Congress a say on this very 
important issue, because we worked together to put together some of the 
toughest sanctions that actually brought the Iranians to the 
negotiating table. We should not lift the sanctions that have been put 
together on a bipartisan basis without ensuring that this is a good 
agreement that will end their nuclear program. When I say end it, I 
don't mean end it for a decade, I mean end it permanently, because Iran 
has been engaged in terrorist activity for longer than a decade. So 
this is something we have to make sure is a transparent, verifiable 
  I would also add we cannot have a situation where we have a splitup. 
There has been a discussion about a year breakout period in this 
agreement. I would like to hear what the Prime Minister thinks about 
that, because my concern about that is this will lead to the situation 
my colleague from South Carolina talked about, where we have a Sunni-
Shia nuclear arms race in the Middle East, where everyone seeks to 
enrich uranium and to have a breakout period. That results in more 
proliferation of nuclear weapons in a way that makes the world less 
safe and endangers the United States of America.
  So today we welcome Prime Minister Netanyahu. I very much look 
forward to listening carefully to what he has to say. This is a 
bipartisan issue. This is about the security of the United States of 
America. This is obviously about our strong friendship with Israel. We 
are aligned in ensuring that Iran does not have a nuclear weapon and 
ensuring that we work together to stop their support of terrorism 
around the world, that we work together to end their ICBM program, 
which the estimates are they could hit the east coast of the United 
States of America by 2015 if they continue on this path. This is about 
us, this is about our relationship with Israel, and I very much look 
forward to hearing the Prime Minister today.
  Mr. HOEVEN. Mr. President, I wish to thank our colleague from New 
Hampshire and I would like to return to the Senator from South Carolina 
and pose a question.
  I have been a supporter of the strong sanctions the Senator put in 
place with the Kirk-Menendez legislation the Senator from South 
Carolina was very involved with. During these negotiations those 
sanctions have been relaxed by the administration, which I think is of 
great concern. I think the biggest deterrent to Iran pursuing a nuclear 
weapon is the sanctions we put in place with our allies.
  So now as the administration negotiates this agreement, my colleague 
from South Carolina and others on a bipartisan basis have put forward 
legislation requiring that that agreement would come to this body for 
an up-or-down vote. I would like him to describe that effort and why it 
is so important and why the speech today with the Prime Minister goes 
to the heart of that very important matter.
  Mr. GRAHAM. I think the legislation the Senator from North Dakota 
described is the most important thing we will do this year. The 
sanctions against Iran, congressionally created, were 100 to 0. Every 
Member of the Senate believed the Iranians needed to be sanctioned for 
the mischief they have created and for their nuclear ambitions to stop 
their march toward a nuclear weapon.
  The administration objected, but 100 Members of this body voted for 
those sanctions. If there is a deal with the Iranians, and I hope there 
is a good deal, the diplomatic solution to this problem is preferred by 
everyone. It is a simple concept. Before the sanctions Congress created 
can be lifted, Congress has to look at the deal and have a say. Under 
the 1, 2, 3 sections of the Atomic Energy Act there is a provision that 
allows for Congress to approve commercial nuclear deals between the 
United States and another country when nuclear technology is shared. We 
have done that 24 times, but Congress had to approve nuclear deals 
between the United States and other nations, including Russia, China, 
Argentina, and that rogue country called Canada. I can't imagine 
wanting to look at a deal with Canada but not wanting to take a look at 
a deal with Iran.
  This bipartisan legislation is very simple. Any deal negotiated with 
the P5+1 will come to the Senate and the House to be disapproved--not 
approved. Now I did that to accommodate my Democratic colleagues. There 
is concern that with 54 Republicans that we hate Obama so much we would 
just reject the deal because we don't like him. Well, I am not in that 
camp. I don't like President Obama's foreign policy, but I hope I am 
smart enough to understand that a good deal is a blessing. I

[[Page S1227]]

would like to think I have some track record of doing what I think is 
best for the country. So if it is a good deal, Israel and the Arabs 
will tell us, and I will gladly vote to approve it. But the construct, 
I say to Senator Hoeven, is that to disapprove the deal, you have to 
get 60 votes. That means some Democratic colleagues have to join with 
Republicans to say this is not good enough, go back and try again. It 
is not that we want to end negotiations; we don't want to legitimize an 
industrial-strength nuclear program that is on the verge of a breakout 
such as North Korea in the making. We are not going to sit on the 
sidelines where a deal is negotiated where they have thousands of 
centrifuges and the only thing between them and a nuclear breakout is 
the United Nations. That did not work well in North Korea. We are not 
going to do that again.
  So we are going to look at the deal. I think every Senator should 
want to look at the deal, and it allows your constituents to have a 
say. Not one person is having any input regarding the P5+1 talks. But 
if it comes back to the Congress, you have a person you can call. You 
can pick up the phone and call your Member of the House and Senate. You 
can say something about the deal because you are affected. It is not 
just Israel that is in the crosshairs of these people, it is us, the 
United States.
  I worry they would share the technology with a terrorist organization 
and it would work its way here. Name one weapon they developed that 
they haven't shared with terrorists. This bipartisan approach is sound. 
It is consistent with what we have done 24 different times with other 
nations, and I hope we can have an overwhelming vote here soon.
  Do your best job. Let us look at it. If it is a good deal, we will 
vote yes, and if it is a bad deal we will vote no, and try harder to 
get another deal.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority's time has expired.
  Mr. HOEVEN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent for 30 seconds to 
wrap up.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. HOEVEN. I wish to thank my colleagues from South Carolina and New 
Hampshire. This is a bipartisan effort to join with the administration, 
and on a matter of this importance I believe Congress must be involved. 
So, again, we appeal to our colleagues on the other side of the aisle 
to join with us on this effort.
  I will conclude by saying we look forward very much to having the 
Prime Minister speak to us this morning.
  Thank you, Mr. President.