During debate recently held in the House, Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.) argued that a proposal sponsored and promoted by Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) “should be a crime” for threatening to effectively strip funding from the monies made available to U.S. victims of state-sponsored terrorism and, more specifically, individuals who’ve suffered impacts from the 9/11 terror attacks.
With similarly minded Republican colleagues who sponsored their own accompanying initiatives, Boebert’s proposed joint resolution would have undone a past presidential declaration of national emergency that covers violence seen in the southern African country the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Like other presidential declarations of a national emergency, this declaration, which was initiated by then-President George W. Bush, provided the legal foundation for punitive financial action by the U.S. targeting individuals and interests tied to the violence. Opponents of these proposals from Boebert and others argued that approving their ambitions would lead to the immediate lifting of sanctions on dangerous forces in areas of concern.
Additionally, Lawler raised his worries about providing for U.S. persons affected by certain terrorist attacks in the context of the usage of fines from the violations of these sanctions to support such people.
“Another reason why this is a horrendous idea is that fines collected from violating terrorist-related sanctions largely go toward the Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund, which provides critical compensation for American victims of state-sponsored terrorist attacks,” Lawler, a first-term member, argued to his colleagues. “Since the fund was established, it has paid out over $3 billion to eligible claimants, and by law, 50 percent of these distributions must be paid to 9/11-related claimants.”
“Again, while I understand my colleagues’ desire to reform the national emergency process, empowering terrorists, corrupt officials, and war criminals is not the answer, and draining the fund that assists victims of terrorist attacks should be a crime in and of itself,” he continued. Lawler also contended that removing the sanctions that Boebert was threatening would help Viktor Bout, the notorious arms dealer from Russia who has targeted Americans, though Boebert denied the connection. The House overwhelmingly rejected Boebert’s proposal.