(House of Representatives - September 22, 2016)

Text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.

[Congressional Record Volume 162, Number 144 (Thursday, September 22, 2016)]
[Pages H5818-H5822]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                              {time}  1230
                         THE COMMITTEE ON RULES

  Mr. BYRNE. Mr. Speaker, by direction of the House Committee on Rules, 
I call up House Resolution 879 and ask for its immediate consideration.
  The Clerk read the resolution, as follows:

                              H. Res. 879

       Resolved, That at any time after adoption of this 
     resolution the Speaker may, pursuant to clause 2(b) of rule 
     XVIII, declare the House resolved into the Committee of the 
     Whole House on the state of the Union for consideration of 
     the bill (H.R. 5931) to provide for the prohibition on cash 
     payments to the Government of Iran, and for other purposes. 
     The first reading of the bill shall be dispensed with. All 
     points of order against consideration of the bill are waived. 
     General debate shall be confined to the bill and shall not 
     exceed one hour equally divided and controlled by the chair 
     and ranking minority member of the Committee on Foreign 
     Affairs. After general debate the bill shall be considered 
     for amendment under the five-minute rule. In lieu of the 
     amendment in the nature of a substitute recommended by the 
     Committee on Foreign Affairs now printed in the bill, it 
     shall be in order to consider as an original bill for the 
     purpose of amendment under the five-minute rule an amendment 
     in the nature of a substitute consisting of the text of Rules 
     Committee Print 114-64. That amendment in the nature of a 
     substitute shall be considered as read. All points of order 
     against that amendment in the nature of a substitute are 
     waived. No amendment to that amendment in the nature of a 
     substitute shall be in order except those printed in the 
     report of the Committee on Rules accompanying this 
     resolution. Each such amendment may be offered only in the 
     order printed in the report, may be offered only by a Member 
     designated in the report, shall be considered as read, shall 
     be debatable for the time specified in the report equally 
     divided and controlled by the proponent and an opponent, 
     shall not be subject to amendment, and shall not be subject 
     to a demand for division of the question in the House or in 
     the Committee of the Whole. All points of order against such 
     amendments are waived. At the conclusion of consideration of 
     the bill for amendment the Committee shall rise and report 
     the bill to the House with such amendments as may have been 
     adopted. Any Member may demand a separate vote in the House 
     on any amendment adopted in the Committee of the Whole to the 
     bill or to the amendment in the nature of a substitute made 
     in order as original text. The previous question shall be 
     considered as ordered on the bill and amendments thereto to 
     final passage without intervening motion except one motion to 
     recommit with or without instructions.
       Sec. 2.  The requirement of clause 6(a) of rule XIII for a 
     two-thirds vote to consider a report from the Committee on 
     Rules on the same day it is presented to the House is waived 
     with respect to any resolution reported through the 
     legislative day of September 27, 2016, relating to a measure 
     making or continuing appropriations for the fiscal year 
     ending September 30, 2017.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Hultgren). The gentleman from Alabama is 
recognized for 1 hour.
  Mr. BYRNE. Mr. Speaker, for the purpose of debate only, I yield the 
customary 30 minutes to the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Hastings), 
pending which I yield myself such time as I may consume. During 
consideration of this resolution, all time yielded is for the purpose 
of debate only.

                             General Leave

  Mr. BYRNE. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may 
have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Alabama?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. BYRNE. Mr. Speaker, House Resolution 879 allows for the 
consideration of H.R. 5931, the Prohibiting Future Ransom Payments to 
Iran Act. The rule makes in order all five amendments submitted to the 
Rules Committee. The rule also provides authority for the House to 
expeditiously consider a continuing resolution.
  On June 24, 2015, President Obama stood in the Roosevelt Room of the 
White House and said: ``I am reaffirming that the United States 
Government will not make concessions, such as paying ransom, to 
terrorist groups holding American hostages.''
  This position shouldn't have been surprising. It has long been the 
position of the U.S. Government to not pay ransoms to terrorist 
organizations, for doing so only encourages further kidnappings and 
puts more American lives at risk.
  Despite this reassurance from President Obama, on January 17, 2016, 
an unmarked cargo plane landed at a European airport. On this plane 
were wooden pallets stacked with unmarked foreign currency--$400 
million worth, to be exact.
  Who was waiting at the airport to accept this money? The Islamic 
Republic of Iran.
  On that exact same day, several Americans who had been held prisoner 
in Iran were released. That, Mr. Speaker, is a ransom payment.
  Since then, we have learned that the full U.S. payment to Iran 
totaled $1.7 billion. The money was related to a decades-old dispute 
about an Iranian arms sale. There are a lot of concerning issues at 
play here.
  First, by giving money to Iran, the United States is supporting the 
world's leading state sponsor of terrorism. Iran uses their money and 
resources to support groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, and other radical 
terrorist groups in Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Iran is no friend 
of the United States, and their efforts have resulted in the deaths of 
U.S. citizens and servicemembers. So why in the world is the United 
States sending them cash payments in the first place?
  Second, the United States should never pay a ransom. I know they 

[[Page H5819]]

that the $1.7 billion payment was a ``settlement,'' but let's get real 
here for a minute. The payment was made on the exact same day the 
Americans were released.
  Let's look in the dictionary for just a moment. ``Ransom'' is defined 
as ``a sum of money or other payment demanded or paid for the release 
of a prisoner.'' That is exactly what happened here.
  Iran knows it was a ransom payment. An Iranian general was quoted as 
saying that, ``the money was returned for the freedom of the U.S. spy, 
and it was not related to the nuclear negotiations.''
  So Iran knows it was a ransom. The American people know it was a 
ransom. Well, how about the State Department? When pushed on this topic 
by the media, a State Department spokesman said that it wasn't ransom 
but, rather, ``leverage.'' What is the difference? The American 
prisoners in Iran were not released until the cash payments occurred. 
You could try to hide the truth by calling it ``leverage'' or a 
``coincidence,'' but the fact is this payment was a ransom.
  Just ask the Obama Justice Department. Press reports indicate that 
Assistant Attorney General John Carlin raised the concern that the cash 
payment to Iran would send a signal to Iran and the world that the U.S. 
had changed its ransom policy. This isn't some radical conspiracy 
theory we are talking about here. This is the exact same concern raised 
by the Justice Department under President Obama--the people he 
  Since this ransom payment occurred, Iran has detained several more 
foreign citizens, including Americans, French, British, and Canadians. 
Sadly, I expect our Iranian friends are already making their ransom 
  The third major concern I have is that the payments were clearly done 
in a way to hide them from the American public. The payments were made 
in cash. According to an international body responsible for combating 
money laundering, known as the Financial Action Task Force, the 
``physical transportation of currency'' is ``one of the main methods 
used to move criminal assets, launder money, and finance terrorism.''
  If this whole ordeal was public and on the up-and-up, then why did 
the U.S. make this payment in cash?
  The Obama administration originally said that the payment had to be 
in cash because financial sanctions prevent us from engaging in wire 
transfers with Iranian banks. Well, it turns out that isn't true. In 
fact, on at least two occasions, the U.S. has made wire transfers to 
the Iranian Government.
  According to Politico, in July 2015, the U.S. sent Iran approximately 
$848,000 to settle a claim over architectural drawings. The wire 
transfers didn't stop there though. The U.S. wired Iran almost $10 
million in April of this year to pay for 32 metric tons of heavy water.
  Here is another issue with the cash payments. Iran has a track record 
of money laundering, and making cash payments will result in it being 
even harder to track their illicit activity. Cash does not have an 
electronic signature, so the money could eventually become untraceable. 
This will make it almost impossible for law enforcement and 
intelligence agencies to track where the money is going. In other 
words, the cash could be transferred to a group like Hamas or Hezbollah 
and the United States may never know. This is deeply troubling.
  So, Mr. Speaker, this legislation makes one thing crystal clear. The 
United States Government is not in the business of paying ransom. 
Specific to Iran, the legislation will prohibit future cash payments to 
Iran until the nation stops sponsoring terrorism and is no longer 
involved in money laundering.
  To boost transparency and accountability, the legislation also 
requires 30-day congressional notification and review of any future 
settlements related to the U.S.-Iran Claims Tribunal. This way Congress 
will have an opportunity to review any future payments instead of them 
being secretly executed in the dark of night.
  Ultimately, the United States cannot continue to give in to Iran. 
Whether it is their nuclear program or their kidnapping of U.S. 
citizens, we simply cannot keep making deals with Iran in which the 
Ayatollah benefits and the American people suffer.
  We need to stop empowering Iran and, instead, start weakening them. 
We must stop giving in to Iran and start standing up to Iran. By 
putting our foot down, the American people and our allies in the Middle 
East will be safer and stronger.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support House Resolution 879, so 
we can move forward with consideration of this important bill.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. HASTINGS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  I thank the gentleman from Alabama (Mr. Byrne) for yielding me the 
customary 30 minutes for debate.
  I rise today in opposition to the rule.
  Let's not parse words. This bill is a Republican attempt to 
politicize the recent payment by the United States to the Government of 
  The legislation equates the payment, which was made as part of a 
settlement of a 35-year-old dispute before the United States-Iran 
Claims Tribunal, as ransom. It prohibits any future payments. And I 
might add, Iran has 200 claims before the tribunal at this time, and 
all of the American claims have been settled before the same Algiers 
Accords tribunal. It prohibits any future payments to the Iranian 
Government and requires the President to submit to Congress a report 
listing and evaluating outstanding claims before the tribunal.
  Mr. Speaker, let's get something straight. The payment to Iran was 
not ransom, and anyone who suggests it was is just trying to score some 
political points in the limited time we have left in Washington. The 
payment was part of a legal settlement to a longstanding 35-year 
dispute. It was money owed to the Iranian Government by the American 
Government, and the transfer was simply our government meeting its 
  As I indicated earlier, it may surprise those watching at home to 
learn that the tribunal has awarded roughly $2.5 billion to American 
citizens in the past.
  I understand that there are many in Congress concerned by the 
loosening of sanctions on Iran. I am one of them. As one of the few 
Democrats to publicly oppose the Iran deal, I know that Iran is, 
without question, not our friend, a state sponsor of terrorism, and I 
don't think you will find anyone in this body who denies this.
  But I am concerned by the trend we are seeing with individuals 
actively trying to undermine the deal rather than working to ensure it 
is made stronger and enact it with intended effect. It is similar to 
the actions--I forget the number, up in the sixties--that my Republican 
friends have attempted to do something about the Affordable Care Act. 
It has problems. The question is what are we going to do about it, 
because the American people need to have health care.

                              {time}  1245

  What we would rather do is repeal what exists. Don't replace it with 
anything, but make political arguments that it needs to be replaced.
  We are doing something very similar here. Rather than making this 
Iran deal stronger, we are continuing to do what we can to undermine 
it. The bill we are discussing today is a stark example of this and is 
an attempt to undermine the deal rather than to strengthen it.
  The bill, if enacted, would hamstring us in the future as more than 
1,000 Iranian claims before the tribunal have yet to be resolved. 
Prohibiting any type of future payment to the Iranian Government--and 
sort of as an aside, it is unfortunate, in this world that we live in, 
that we have to do business with bad people. I served on the 
Intelligence Committee when $2 billion walked off in Iraq, and we still 
haven't had accountability about that, but let's don't get too far off 
the track. The fact of the matter is, the bill does all of these things 
in order to prop up the false premise that the United States paid Iran 
ransom. This is just plain wrong, and it is a waste of our time.
  Mr. Speaker, I am concerned, as I have often been throughout this 
Congress, that partisan measures such as this one are distracting our 
attention from measures that we absolutely must pass, including today. 
There are just 7 legislative days left until we break for another 44-
day recess, and that is after the Republicans shut down Congress

[[Page H5820]]

for the longest summer recess in modern history. It gives the term 
``do-nothing Congress'' a whole new meaning.
  Once we recess next week, unless we do something different, we will 
leave Washington until after the election. Yet, as of today, despite 
considerable bipartisan concern, we haven't gotten a clean Zika 
research funding bill, and we haven't gotten a bill on gun violence--
not a word on the subject except to threaten Democrats with punishment 
for protesting this body's unconscionable inaction on the subject. We 
haven't talked about flood relief for Louisiana. We haven't gotten a 
bill on the water crisis in Flint, and the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. 
Kildee) will address that in a few minutes. We are still dealing with 
an opioid epidemic. Let me underscore that again. We are dealing with 
an opioid epidemic in this country that is killing our children all 
over this Nation, and we have not done anything about it.
  The appropriations process has come to a complete standstill. That is 
why we are out of here tonight. We are going to try to figure out what 
we are going to do to discharge our responsibilities that are scheduled 
for October 1; so we will be here next week. All of those out there in 
Congress who don't know it, we will be here. We will be fiddling 
around. We will be doing suspensions. We will be doing one-House 
measures until the thing comes together, and it will. We will be 
threatened with ``we will keep you here until Saturday, or we will keep 
you here until Christmas.'' It goes on and on, kicking the can down the 
  House Republicans continue to ignore their responsibilities to the 
American people and waste time on partisan, go-nowhere bills--just like 
the one we have here today--while Americans are forced to face critical 
public health emergencies alone. In fact, in each public health crisis 
before America, House Republicans have chosen to obstruct the 
meaningful action and resources that are needed to save lives.
  On the subject of Zika, this month, the Centers for Disease Control 
and Prevention will run out of resources to fight the virus. More than 
21,000 Americans have confirmed cases of Zika; yet Republican inaction 
has forced the CDC to divert research funding away from other diseases. 
They have had to take money out of the Ebola account, and Ebola has not 
gone away. They are taking money out of the flu account and out of the 
tuberculosis account, and those are not going away at any point in 
time. They are taking cancer research money in order to keep its Zika 
research program going, which is an immediate crisis. It is not just a 
Florida thing or a Central America or a South America thing. There are 
22,000 Americans who have this virus, and the Aedes aegypti mosquito is 
not the only one that is carrying this virus. This has been researched 
since 2009. It didn't just start yesterday, and it is not going to end 
tomorrow, but something needs to be done today about this particular 
  I quote CDC Director Tom Frieden. The Republican co-chair of the 
Florida delegation and I had a hearing of our Florida delegation, and 
Mr. Frieden came to testify before us. He said: ``We are out of money, 
and we need Congress to act.''
  I am not sure how much more plainly it can be said. We need a clean 
bill that provides adequate funding. Let's stop playing games with the 
lives of women and infants and of the people in general who have 
contracted this virus. It has now shown that it can affect the mental 
stability of adults.
  Mr. Speaker, we have some serious issues to tackle; so I am dismayed 
to be on the floor today focusing on yet another messaging bill. There 
will be headlines tomorrow. Members will go back home to their 
districts and will talk about ``we stopped Obama and any future 
President from paying ransom money.'' It was not ransom in the first 
place--it was Iran's money. The prisoners who were released would have 
been released. Had we done it a month earlier, I wonder if they would 
have called it a ransom. Had we done it a month later, I wonder if they 
would have called it a ransom. Yet this messaging bill comes here.
  I hope that my colleagues across the aisle, in the final week before 
we leave Washington, will let us address just some of the things that I 
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. BYRNE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Texas 
(Mr. Williams).
  Mr. WILLIAMS. Mr. Speaker, 2 weeks ago, the Obama administration 
admitted to transferring $1.3 billion in cash to Iran after delivering 
a $400 million cash payment on the same day that Iran released American 
prisoners. The Obama administration tried to walk back its actions by 
calling the first cash payment leverage, but the American people, 
frankly, know better. The cash payment to Iran was a ransom payment--I 
repeat, a ransom payment to Iran--plain and simple.
  Let's get one thing straight here: Iran is our enemy. It is not our 
friend. Iran is the enemy of our most important allies in the region 
and not their friend. Iran's leadership has publicly promised to wipe 
out America and to wipe out Israel--right off the map. Those are not 
the words of a friend. Iran imprisons American citizens and taunts our 
Navy every single day. That is not a friend. Iran is one of only three 
nations our Department of State classifies as a ``state sponsor of 
  Whether it is the Obama administration's refusal to utter the phrase 
``radical Islam'' or the word ``ransom,'' it has tried time and again 
to deceive the American people with its policies that have ultimately 
made America less safe. As the increasingly popular saying goes: our 
friends no longer trust us, and our enemies no longer fear us.
  It is time for Congress to step in and block future cash payments to 
Iran. As an original cosponsor of this bill, I urge my colleagues to 
support the Prohibiting Future Payments to Iran Act.

  In God we trust.
  Mr. HASTINGS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  If this had been ransom, there is a person whom Iran has held 
prisoner and about whom Iran has denied a lack of information to the 
family--Robert Levinson, who has been in Iran for 9 years. I just can't 
imagine that a ransom agreement or the meeting of a demand would not 
have included information about Robert Levinson. That would be, in my 
considered opinion, the height of ridiculousness; therefore, the 
obviousness of leaving Mr. Levinson out of what would be a proposed 
ransom strikes me as being strange.
  Mr. Speaker, if we defeat the previous question, I am going to offer 
an amendment to the rule to bring up comprehensive legislation that 
provides the resources that are needed to help the families of Flint, 
Michigan, recover from the lead drinking water crisis.
  Mr. Speaker, the children and families of Flint are facing lifelong 
damage as a result of lead exposure. It is long past time that this 
Congress acted. We have an opportunity right now to bring up 
legislation that would ensure the people of Flint will receive clean 
drinking water and to provide health and educational support for the 
children who are affected by the crisis.
  Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to insert the text of the 
amendment in the Record, along with extraneous material, immediately 
prior to the vote on the previous question.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Florida?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. HASTINGS. Mr. Speaker, a champion, among the champions of people 
who are here in Congress, is Dan Kildee. I had the privilege of serving 
with his uncle for a substantial portion of my career. I had the 
privilege--and I have spoken with Dan about this--to visit with his 
uncle before this particular crisis of Flint's and to discuss the 
plight of the people in Flint and Pontiac and that general area.
  In this particular instance, I hope we don't hear from people that 
this isn't germane. This is the Democrats' motion to recommit, and 
Republicans who care about the lead exposure that these children and 
families have been exposed to in Flint can simply vote for the motion 
to recommit, and we will be able to address this subject.
  I yield 5 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from Flint, Michigan 
(Mr. Kildee) to discuss our proposal.
  Mr. KILDEE. I thank the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Hastings) for 
yielding and for all of his advocacy on behalf of the people of my 
community and, also, of the many forgotten people across the country.

[[Page H5821]]

  Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to the previous question in order 
to bring up a vote to finally help the people of my hometown of Flint, 
  In 2 days, it will have been 1 year since Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha 
released the results of her research that showed that blood levels of 
the children in Flint showed significantly elevated levels of lead--
that the water that they had been drinking had poisoned them.
  A year later, here we stand. This Congress has not yet acted to 
provide any relief to a community that is facing the greatest crisis--
the greatest disaster--of its history. It has been a year since it was 
known that that water was too dangerous to drink. Members in this body 
have heard me speak about this before. It has been 2 years since, 
actually, the water contained lead. It took that long for the 
information, finally, to come to light; yet Congress has continuously 
failed to act.
  We have a way to get this done. I just ask my Republican colleagues 
in the House to step out of the way and allow the bipartisan 
legislation that has passed the Senate to have a vote so that it may be 
included in the legislation that this body is considering. The House 
can do so by following the Senate's lead, which passed legislation to 
provide relief to Flint by a vote of 95-3. Let me just make this clear: 
the United States Senate voted 95-3 to provide support for the people 
of Flint--and yet nothing here in this House.

                              {time}  1300

  We have an opportunity with the continuing resolution to include that 
language in the continuing resolution and help the people of my 
hometown, again, people who yet today cannot drink their water without 
fear that it will poison them.
  This is a fully paid-for provision. There was always debate about 
whether we should be able to spend in case of emergency without having 
an offset. In this case, we have an offset. So the argument has to be 
that the people of Flint simply don't deserve to have their Federal 
Government act in their moment of greatest need. I know from 
conversations that I have had with Members on both sides of the aisle 
that that cannot be the case.
  I have had all sorts of expressions of sympathy. Many Members of 
Congress have traveled to Flint, Democrats and Republicans, and have 
expressed to me on an almost daily basis that they wish there was 
something they could do to help those poor folks. Well, you know what? 
Sympathy expresses sentiment, but it doesn't provide clean drinking 
water for the people of my hometown. We have a chance to act.
  Now, when this came before this body, this Congress, in the form of 
hearings in the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the 
Committee on Energy and Commerce, many of my Republican colleagues--
virtually every member of the Oversight and Government Reform 
Committee--spoke up and said what a shame it was that the Federal 
Government played a role in the crisis that Flint is facing, that the 
Federal Government bore some responsibility.
  Now, we can argue about how much responsibility lands at the State. I 
think the majority of the responsibility is the State's, but I would 
agree that this is failure at every level of government. My Republican 
colleagues went so far as to call for a Cabinet member of the President 
to resign because the Federal responsibility was so great that a member 
of the President's Cabinet should step down because it was the Federal 
Government who bore responsibility, in part.
  Suddenly, when it is time to actually do something to help the people 
of Flint, what do we have? All of a sudden, the narrative changes. All 
of a sudden, what was a Federal problem with clear Federal 
accountability and responsibility, universally demonstrated by my 
friends on the other side of the aisle, when it comes time to take up a 
paid-for piece of legislation that will not increase the deficit but 
will help these poor folks who cannot drink their water, what do we 
get? Shuffling of their feet. Stunned silence. Nothing. Nothing. Shame. 
  What would you do if it was your hometown? What would you do if it 
was your community?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has expired.
  Mr. HASTINGS. Mr. Speaker, I yield an additional 1 minute to the 
gentleman from Michigan.
  Mr. KILDEE. Mr. Speaker, you know what you would do. You would step 
to the floor of this House and you would make sure every single day you 
fought to get help for your community.
  One of the first votes I cast when I came here was to help the 
victims of a storm that was nowhere near my home, and I was proud to do 
it because they were Americans who happened to be in need.
  What is it about Flint? What is it about the people of Flint? Answer 
me. What is it that separates them, that has them in a position where 
their Federal Government can't come to their aid? When they can't drink 
the water, when the water that comes from their tap is poison and we 
have a chance to do something about it without increasing the Federal 
deficit with an offset that is already identified, I hear nothing. I 
hear nothing from the leadership of this House that gives any 
indication that the people of Flint matter at all. Shame. Shame.
  We ought to act, and we ought to do it now--not maybe 3 months from 
now, not, ``Oh, Flint, maybe we will get you in the next bill or maybe 
the next piece of legislation.'' Shame. We should bring it up now.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Members are reminded to direct their remarks 
to the Chair.
  Mr. BYRNE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  We are here today to talk about a bill that would address yet another 
foreign policy and national security failure by the Obama 
administration. The other issues that have been brought up are 
important issues, but that is not what we are talking about today in 
this rule.
  The gentleman from Michigan knows probably far better than I do that 
there are a number of people around here working on the Flint issue. We 
could have a bill on the floor of this House as early as next week. 
That is certainly my hope and the hope of a lot of other people. I am 
not privy to all of what is going on there, but I understand that may 
be coming. That is not what we are here about today.
  It is not unusual for me to stand up here when I am managing one of 
these rules and hear our friends on the other side want to bring up 
everything other than the topic of what is in the rule because they 
don't want to talk about the foreign policy and national security 
failures of the Obama administration. Well, the American people want us 
to do something about that. They are worried when they see somebody put 
bombs in trash cans in New York, when somebody stabs people to death in 
Minnesota. They want to see us doing something. We are trying to do 
something about that with numerous pieces of legislation that we bring 
forward in this House; and whenever we bring them up, we hear from the 
other side about everything else.
  Well, today we are here to talk about stopping this President and 
future Presidents from sending pallets of cash to Iran. That is what we 
are talking about. So I want us to get back to that debate because that 
is an important debate for the American people.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. HASTINGS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time to 
  Earlier, I misspoke when I said that we could vote for the motion to 
recommit. I should have said--and I correct the Record now--the 
previous question was what I was speaking of. The simple fact of the 
matter is we can vote in support of the previous question, and then we 
would be able to address the Flint crisis.
  Mr. Speaker, I want to reiterate that this bill is nothing more than 
an attempt by the majority to make political hay of the recent payment 
to the Government of Iran, a payment that was a legal settlement. It 
seems to get ignored by my friends that the United States and Iran are 
participants in a claims tribunal that was established 35 years ago 
under the Algiers Accords because Iran had held our hostages, and we 
needed a methodology to be able to pay and have those hostages 
remunerated appropriately. That said, $2.5 billion has been paid to 
American claims rightly. This framework is being followed, and what 
this legislation that is going nowhere would do, if it went somewhere, 
would be to fly in the face of that framework that was established.

[[Page H5822]]

  By prohibiting any future payments to Iran, this bill could put us in 
the position of violating the Algiers Accords and owing even more 
money. It comes at the expense of addressing issues that really matter, 
like Flint, like Zika, like the opioid epidemic, like gun violence, 
like the Louisiana floods and the crumbling infrastructure of this 
Nation. The list goes on and on.

  I urge my colleagues to oppose this rule and the underlying measure.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. BYRNE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time to 
  The gentleman said earlier in his remarks that there are times when 
the United States has to have interactions with bad people. As a member 
of the Armed Services Committee, I understand that. We do. But we 
should be wise in doing so. He and I completely agreed about the ill 
wisdom of the deal that President Obama struck with Iran; nonetheless, 
he struck the deal.
  He said that there are 200 Iranian claims pending. I have no idea if 
any of those claims are meritorious. But if even one of them is 
meritorious, I don't think he would agree--and I know I don't agree, 
and the vast majority of people in America don't agree--that you pay 
such a claim by sending pallets of cash. Why would they do that? Why 
would any President of the United States send pallets of cash to the 
leading state sponsor of terrorism? It is to hide what they were doing, 
and they have been found out. We should never do that with anyone, but 
particularly not with an enemy.
  The other thing that this bill provides, besides a prohibition on 
that--and that is so common sense that I don't know how we could 
disagree about it--is it requires congressional notification. Don't we 
want the Congress, as a coequal branch of government, to know before we 
pay money to the leading state sponsor of terrorism? Don't we want to 
let the American people know what is going on?
  This is a very commonsense bill. The people of the United States 
expect us to do nothing less than this. So while I appreciate some of 
the other things we heard about it, some of the other issues they 
mentioned, let's focus on this. Let's at least get this done so that 
this President and no President can ever, ever again pay ransom to 
  Mr. Speaker, I again urge my colleagues to support House Resolution 
879 and the underlying legislation.
  The material previously referred to by Mr. Hastings is as follows:

          An Amendment to H. Res. 879 Offered by Mr. Hastings

       At the end of the resolution, add the following new 
       Sec. 3. Immediately upon adoption of this resolution the 
     Speaker shall, pursuant to clause 2(b) of rule XVIII, declare 
     the House resolved into the Committee of the Whole House on 
     the state of the Union for consideration of the bill (H.R. 
     4479) to provide emergency assistance related to the Flint 
     water crisis, and for other purposes. The first reading of 
     the bill shall be dispensed with. All points of order against 
     consideration of the bill are waived. General debate shall be 
     confined to the bill and shall not exceed one hour equally 
     divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority 
     member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. After general 
     debate the bill shall be considered for amendment under the 
     five-minute rule. All points of order against provisions in 
     the bill are waived. At the conclusion of consideration of 
     the bill for amendment the Committee shall rise and report 
     the bill to the House with such amendments as may have been 
     adopted. The previous question shall be considered as ordered 
     on the bill and amendments thereto to final passage without 
     intervening motion except one motion to recommit with or 
     without instructions. If the Committee of the Whole rises and 
     reports that it has come to no resolution on the bill, then 
     on the next legislative day the House shall, immediately 
     after the third daily order of business under clause 1 of 
     rule XIV, resolve into the Committee of the Whole for further 
     consideration of the bill.
       Sec. 4. Clause 1(c) of rule XIX shall not apply to the 
     consideration of H.R. 4479.

        The Vote on the Previous Question: What It Really Means

       This vote, the vote on whether to order the previous 
     question on a special rule, is not merely a procedural vote. 
     A vote against ordering the previous question is a vote 
     against the Republican majority agenda and a vote to allow 
     the Democratic minority to offer an alternative plan. It is a 
     vote about what the House should be debating.
       Mr. Clarence Cannon's Precedents of the House of 
     Representatives (VI, 308-311), describes the vote on the 
     previous question on the rule as ``a motion to direct or 
     control the consideration of the subject before the House 
     being made by the Member in charge.'' To defeat the previous 
     question is to give the opposition a chance to decide the 
     subject before the House. Cannon cites the Speaker's ruling 
     of January 13, 1920, to the effect that ``the refusal of the 
     House to sustain the demand for the previous question passes 
     the control of the resolution to the opposition'' in order to 
     offer an amendment. On March 15, 1909, a member of the 
     majority party offered a rule resolution. The House defeated 
     the previous question and a member of the opposition rose to 
     a parliamentary inquiry, asking who was entitled to 
     recognition. Speaker Joseph G. Cannon (R-Illinois) said: 
     ``The previous question having been refused, the gentleman 
     from New York, Mr. Fitzgerald, who had asked the gentleman to 
     yield to him for an amendment, is entitled to the first 
       The Republican majority may say ``the vote on the previous 
     question is simply a vote on whether to proceed to an 
     immediate vote on adopting the resolution . . . [and] has no 
     substantive legislative or policy implications whatsoever.'' 
     But that is not what they have always said. Listen to the 
     Republican Leadership Manual on the Legislative Process in 
     the United States House of Representatives, (6th edition, 
     page 135). Here's how the Republicans describe the previous 
     question vote in their own manual: ``Although it is generally 
     not possible to amend the rule because the majority Member 
     controlling the time will not yield for the purpose of 
     offering an amendment, the same result may be achieved by 
     voting down the previous question on the rule. . . . When the 
     motion for the previous question is defeated, control of the 
     time passes to the Member who led the opposition to ordering 
     the previous question. That Member, because he then controls 
     the time, may offer an amendment to the rule, or yield for 
     the purpose of amendment.''
       In Deschler's Procedure in the U.S. House of 
     Representatives, the subchapter titled ``Amending Special 
     Rules'' states: ``a refusal to order the previous question on 
     such a rule [a special rule reported from the Committee on 
     Rules] opens the resolution to amendment and further 
     debate.'' (Chapter 21, section 21.2) Section 21.3 continues: 
     ``Upon rejection of the motion for the previous question on a 
     resolution reported from the Committee on Rules, control 
     shifts to the Member leading the opposition to the previous 
     question, who may offer a proper amendment or motion and who 
     controls the time for debate thereon.''
       Clearly, the vote on the previous question on a rule does 
     have substantive policy implications. It is one of the only 
     available tools for those who oppose the Republican 
     majority's agenda and allows those with alternative views the 
     opportunity to offer an alternative plan.

  Mr. BYRNE. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time, and I 
move the previous question on the resolution.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on ordering the previous 
  The question was taken; and the Speaker pro tempore announced that 
the ayes appeared to have it.
  Mr. HASTINGS. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.
  The yeas and nays were ordered.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX, further 
proceedings on this question will be postponed.