NOMINATION HOLD; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 82
(Senate - May 16, 2019)

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[Page S2917]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                            NOMINATION HOLD

  Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I am placing a hold on the nomination of 
David M. Satterfield, who has been nominated to serve as Ambassador to 
Turkey. My objection comes down to one increasingly irrefutable point: 
the State Department's, through Ambassador Satterfield, consistent 
efforts to protect the Palestinian Authority and Palestine Liberation 
Organization from liability and thereby undermine the rights of 
American victims of Palestinian terrorism. This stands in sharp 
contrast to the intent of Congress.
  Last year, I introduced the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act, ATCA, 
in response to recent court decisions that gutted the jurisdictional 
reach of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1992, which I also authored. These 
decisions made it substantially more difficult for American victims to 
hold sponsors of international terrorism accountable in our nation's 
courts.
  The ATCA expressed a clear principle: If you accept taxpayer-backed 
assistance or maintain a presence in the United States, then you should 
be answerable in our courts if you are alleged to have supported 
terrorism that harmed or killed Americans.
  The bipartisan bill was considered through regular order, with 
markups in both Chambers, as a standalone bill, passed Congress without 
objection, and was signed into law by President Trump in October. Never 
once did the State Department or the administration raise a single 
concern.
  Yet, 2 months later, at the end of the 115th Congress, the State 
Department began directly lobbying Congress for a ``fix'' to the ATCA 
to remove certain forms of assistance from the statute, thereby 
allowing defendants like the Palestinian Authority to enjoy such 
benefits without risk of liability. Ambassador Satterfield led the 
State Department team, with whom my staff attempted to negotiate in 
good faith over several weeks at the end of 2018 and early this year.
  I offered numerous compromise proposals to the State Department, 
including delays of the foreign assistance provisions, a rule of 
construction to aid victims, and even a complete strike from the ATCA 
of the assistance that State Department deems so valuable. Never once, 
however, did State or Ambassador Satterfield demonstrate interest in 
supporting language that would tangibly benefit victims. Rather, my 
bill seemed an annoyance to State's priorities, and Ambassador 
Satterfield on several occasions vocalized his concern about the law's 
impact on the Palestinian Authority, who have been found liable in U.S. 
courts for supporting terrorist attacks against Americans.
  When my staff asked for any alternative ideas they would support to 
help victims, State's team came back empty-handed, and after I found 
bipartisan support for a compromise proposal, the State Department made 
clear to other offices that it would not support the compromise unless 
and until Congress expressly protects the Palestinian Authority's 
presence in the United States.
  I refuse to assist the State Department in silencing any litigation 
arguments of U.S. victims of terrorism.
  I also understand that recent efforts in the House of Representatives 
have proved futile in finding language that both benefits American 
victims and gets support from the State Department. I am tired of our 
State Department putting the interests of alleged sponsors of terrorism 
over those of our own citizens. The State Department should work in 
good faith with Congress and victims by unambiguously demonstrating its 
support for restoring jurisdiction over sponsors of terrorism.

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