Providing for Further Consideration of H.R. National Defense

Floor Speech

Date: July 13, 2022
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to the Pappas, or as it might be, the Pallone 399 amendment.


Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. Speaker, I thank my dear friend, Mr. Pallone, for being here tonight.

This opportunity for us to speak deserves to be placed within the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which has the jurisdiction on this matter, the jurisdiction that is very important to the United States and to our friends from Greece. But it also is important to our friend Turkey, who stands, as a NATO ally, ready, prepared to help the United States and its NATO allies in the defense of a region of the world that is important.

It is important for us to note that the conversation about this really needs to take place within the Foreign Affairs Committee, and I think the chairman and the ranking member are very able to discuss it.

A report to Congress was made from this last prior administration that directly speaks about exactly the circumstances that Mr. Pallone speaks of. The United States Government sent this Section 211, PL 116- 94, and they said: ``The United States Government is not in a position to provide a list of confirmed violations of Greece's territorial airspace.''

This is a basis of what this amendment is about. First, Greece claims territorial space that extends up to 10 nautical miles from its coastline and its territorial sea up to six nautical miles. Under international law, a country's territorial airspace coincides with its territorial sea space also.

In this instance, Greece treats these differently. Although Greece currently claims up to 6 nautical miles of territorial sea around the many islands that it has, its neighbors have not come to a boundary delineation upon those areas. Thus, Turkey, which stands directly next to many of these islands, looks at international law.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is important for us to recognize at this time, not just with the United States but with the war that is going on between Russia and Ukraine, that NATO be prepared to have its top- flight--not just fighters--but the equipment that would be necessary. I believe this discussion, although I recognize it was made in order by the Rules Committee, should be placed directly within the Foreign Affairs Committee.

There needs to be a discussion to resolve this between America's friends, Turkey and Greece, and depend on them to be able to resolve this matter, not put this into the National Defense Authorization Act, which does not have jurisdiction in this matter. We should not invoke the United States military into this when, in fact, it should be something that is done by the State Department.

I have great respect for the gentleman, Mr. Pallone. I have great respect for the Rules Committee, which I sat on for 20 years. But this issue entirely, from start to finish, belongs upon what might be the foreign sales of assets that are military oriented. That jurisdiction is not in the Armed Services Committee.

I stand in opposition, and I ask that the gentleman withdraw his amendment solely based upon a jurisdictional issue, the need for the United States of America, the need for NATO and Turkey, as a very reliable member, to be able to have those things that it would need.


Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. Speaker, I would like to respond to the gentleman.

First of all, the congressional review of all arms exports is done through the Foreign Affairs Committee, not through the Armed Services Committee.

Secondly, it is in America's best interests. One argument could be made perhaps about Ukraine until Russia attacked. It is now a war that the United States is funding to huge numbers of appropriations amounts. There is great concern about not just food shortages but the destabilization of that area of the world.

We, the United States, as a major supporter of NATO, count on all the NATO nations there that are part of that to have the top-flight--not only equipment--but the ability to effectively avoid a further war by them working together.

I would say two points that the gentleman raised. First, the Armed Services Committee does not have jurisdiction, and secondly, it is very much in the United States' best interest to make sure that Turkey has top-line F-16 fighters.


Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.