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Expressing Concern Over Detention of Austin Tice

Floor Speech

Date: Dec. 3, 2020
Location: Washington, DC



Mr. Speaker, 3,034 days. That is how long Austin Tice, a former U.S. marine and freelance journalist, has been held captive in Syria. It is far past time that he be returned home to his family in Houston.

Austin has dedicated his life to his country and to serving others. After serving 10 years in the United States Marine Corps, Austin decided to enroll in law school. He wanted to continue helping those who needed help the most. While he was attending Georgetown Law, just down the street from here, he couldn't stop thinking about what he had seen and the people he had met on his tours in the Middle East.

So, before beginning his final year of law school, Austin decided to return to the Middle East. Only this time, it would be to report on the atrocities happening in Syria.

The Assad regime's brutal attacks on its own people were horrifying to hear about. They were even using chemical weapons on their own people.

Unfortunately, there weren't enough reporters on the ground in Syria to verify their crimes or tell the world about the suffering of the Syrian people. So, Austin did what he has always done. He stepped up to the plate and filled a much-needed void in a very dangerous place in order to help those who could not help themselves.

But then, on August 14, 2012, as he was preparing to return home, Austin was captured at a checkpoint in Damascus. Now, more than 8 years later, he is still being held in Syria. Austin is now entering his ninth year of captivity. In just a matter of months, he will turn 40 years old.

Mr. Speaker, that is nine birthdays that he will have missed back home, nine Thanksgiving dinners without his family. Later this month, it will be nine Christmases that his family has had to endure without him.

I have met Austin's parents many times, and it is very tragic and emotional. Each time, I see the pain in their eyes as they describe their tireless efforts to bring him home. That is a pain that only parents can truly understand.

It is up to us here in this Chamber to show the Tice family that we will not tolerate this for another year. Austin deserves to have his life back, and his family deserves to have him back.

Mr. Speaker, with this resolution, we once again urge the administration to continue working to bring Austin home. The State Department should use all the tools at its disposal to ensure his safe and immediate return.

Congress will not rest, and I will not rest, and my colleague, Congressman Green, will not rest until Austin and the other American hostages detained abroad have been safely reunited with their families.

Mr. Speaker, I thank my dear friend and colleague, Congressman Al Green, for his introduction of this bill. The Tice family are his constituents. He has stood by them day in and day out over the past years. He and I, working together with other Members in this Chamber, will bring Austin home, finally.

Mr. Speaker, I thank Chairman Eliot Engel, Representatives Green, Bilirakis, French Hill, and so many of my other colleagues on both sides of the aisle for supporting this important measure.

Austin Tice dedicated his life to service. From his time in the Marine Corps to his reporting on the brutal civil war and humanitarian crisis in Syria, he lived to improve the lives of others.

Think about it: Austin went to Syria to document some of the most brutal crimes against humanity so the world would see it, to expose what Assad has done to his own people to the world, and the price he had to pay for that is to be put into a Syrian prison.

It is far past time that we repay Austin for his service, not only to our country, but to the world to expose these war crimes, to expose what was happening over there, and the courage he had to go over there to photograph. By bringing him home to his friends and his family, that is the way we pay him back. We have to use every tool at our disposal within the United States Government to bring him home to his family.

Again, I want to thank all those involved, and in particular, Congressman Green, who represents the family, whom we have talked to extensively.

This is one of those measures that is really an emotional one from the heart because we are talking about the life of a patriot who is trapped in a very bad prison in Syria overseas and cannot get out, and it has been 8 years--8 years, for God's sake, Mr. Speaker. It is time to bring Austin home.