Monday, September 18, 2006

Senator Frank Lautenberg attempts to rewrite history

The National Jewish Democratic Council PAC: Press advisory
On Monday, September 18, 2006, the National Jewish Democratic Council Political Action Committee (NJDC PAC) will be joined by U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (NJ) and U.S. Representative Allyson Schwartz (PA) to highlight Pennsylvania Republican Senator Rick Santorum's refusal to stop U.S. companies from doing business with Iran.

Senator Santorum has gone to great lengths to try and persuade Pennsylvania Jews that they should support him in November because of his support for Israel and hard lined opposition to Iran. Yet on three separate occasions since 2004, Rick Santorum has voted against closing a loophole in U.S. law which has permitted the foreign subsidiaries of U.S.-owned companies, especially Halliburton, to do business with Iran. U.S. law currently prohibits U.S. companies from doing business with Iran, a country which is a direct threat to the safety and security of the United States and its allies, is committed to obtaining a nuclear weapon, dedicates state funds to supporting terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah, and has called for the destruction of the State of Israel. Rick Santorum's record just doesn’t match his rhetoric.
But Lautenberg knows better:
June 15 Floor exchange with Lautenberg/Santorum

Mr. LAUTENBERG. Mr. President, I will try to be quick. I listened with interest to the Senator from Pennsylvania and his presentation. I also looked at the amendment he has produced. In that amendment, we are going to administer sanctions against companies doing business with Iran.

Now, the surprise here is that three times before, when I had an amendment, the Senator from Pennsylvania voted against it, would not include it, didn't want to discriminate against firms that do business with Iran and that provide revenues that kill our kids in Iraq.

And now we have a flimsy aspect. We say we are going to impose sanctions; however, it will be out of reach of American jurisdiction. It, therefore, will not apply to the company that owns it--in this case it happens to be a Halliburton--that has a sham corporation operating in Dubai based originally in the Cayman Islands. That should not be allowed, that the grasp of the U.S. Government cannot reach these perpetrators of the kind of indecency that places our soldiers at risk because they are doing business with an avowed enemy of the United States that is providing funds that are lethal to our troops over there.

I hope everybody will take a good close look at this amendment and vote ``no.''

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Pennsylvania.

Mr. SANTORUM. Mr. President, this goes under the old rubric of no good deed goes unpunished. We have attempted in this amendment to meet the Senator from New Jersey halfway. The Senator's amendment has consistently been voted on. I have opposed it and so has most of the Senate, which suggests that those who are currently doing business and have invested should be penalized for their investment. What we say is that on any future investment, you will be penalized. We make the Lautenberg language prospective.

In attempting to meet the Senator from New Jersey halfway, we find out that this is not sufficient and, therefore, we should oppose this amendment. I would think half a loaf is better than no loaf. This, by the way, was not in the Iran Freedom and Support Act. This is one of the provisions Senator Levin mentioned that was added, frankly, out of respect for the concerns the Senator from New Jersey raised and has raised on the floor repeatedly.

This is an attempt to make a good-faith attempt--and I do mean that--a good-faith attempt to meet the Senator from New Jersey halfway and to take his policy and put it in place in a prospective manner. If that is not sufficient for the Senator from New Jersey, that is fine. He is welcome to oppose the amendment.

Mr. LAUTENBERG. Will the Senator yield for a question?

Mr. SANTORUM. I will be happy to yield.

Mr. LAUTENBERG. Mr. President, is the Senator aware that the exemption in his amendment would make it almost impossible to hold a U.S. company liable for doing business with Iran through a foreign subsidiary?

Mr. SANTORUM. My understanding is that we crafted this language pursuant to the language the Senator from New Jersey used in the past and put a threshold we thought was--I think it was a $20 million threshold we put in place which we thought was a reasonable threshold of investment to reach the level of sanction.

If the Senator from New Jersey would like to toughen that language or change the threshold, I would be happy to sit down and talk with him about it. I am open to discussion.

My only point, and I think the point we have had in this discussion in the past, is I don't believe it is proper to penalize companies that have investments there, in many cases longstanding investments. What we want to do is discourage future investment. That is what we attempt to do in this amendment. If the Senator does not believe it has been effectively written, I will be happy to sit down with him, in all sincerity, and work to make it effective that future investments are discouraged. READ MORE

Mr. LAUTENBERG. Mr. President, I have another question, if I may, and that is, would the Senator be willing to move the vote back, if we can do it, so we can discuss the language?

Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, we are under a unanimous consent agreement. The time, I believe, has expired.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. There is 6 seconds remaining.

Mr. WARNER. Will the Senator yield back the 6 seconds so we can get to the vote? I regret we have to move forward.

Mr. SANTORUM. The Senator has heard his answer.