Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: (202) 226-7875, July 20, 2006

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Hyde, Lantos Criticize State Department for Failing to Consult Congress Adequately on Arms Sale, Introduce Legislation 

            (WASHINGTON) - Representatives Henry Hyde (R-IL) and Tom Lantos (D-CA), the chairman and ranking member of the House International Relations Committee, today blasted the U.S. Department of State for ignoring congressional oversight on arms sales and their risk to national security, and they introduced legislation to reinforce long-standing oversight practice.

“What we can say for the public record is that a sequence of actions and inactions by the State Department recently resulted in a host of serious national security and compliance issues,” Hyde said in a hearing on the proposed sale of F-16 aircraft and weapons systems to Pakistan.  “The State Department cannot persuasively justify its position even now.  This Committee is determined to take all appropriate action in order to ensure that there will not be a recurrence of this flouting of Congress’ role.”

“Mid-level State Department bureaucrats have convinced their bosses to ignore 30 years of precedent and cut this Committee, and this Congress, out of consideration of U.S. arms sales,” Lantos said.  “This insolence flies in the face both of custom and the intent of the Constitution.”

Lantos and Hyde today introduced H.R. 5847, a bill that requires quarterly updates on possible upcoming arms sales and enforces a 20-day consultation period before the State Department formally notifies Congress of a proposed sale. They did this in response to continued State Department resistance to input on the proposed sale of F-16 warplanes to Pakistan, ignoring concerns raised by members of Congress about needed assurances that the sophisticated technology did not fall into the wrong hands.

“The Department of State chose to exploit the proposed sale of sophisticated F-16 aircraft and weaponry to Pakistan as the unfortunate vehicle to overturn what had been a constructive process to ensure that arms sales do not compromise U.S. national security, “ Lantos said. “While I support the substance of the sale, we have had long-standing concerns over the security plan to protect the U.S. technology in these aircraft and missiles in sales to a country that produced the A.Q. Khan nuclear proliferation network.  In the Department’s rush to reduce Congressional oversight, our concerns have not been heeded.  Make no mistake, they will be.”

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