Verbatim, as delivered
Remarks of Chairman Lantos at Hearing, ”Export Controls: Are We Protecting Security and Facilitating Exports?”
Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade
This year, for the first time, the
Comptroller General of the
What is the reason for this sorry situation? The GAO has been pointing out the problems for nearly a decade: In report after report, it has noted that the State and Commerce Departments are in a state of denial about the need to adapt to new threats and new global technological challenges.
These issues are particularly acute at the State Department, which has been awash in unprocessed applications for licenses to ship military equipment overseas – a whopping 10,000 of them at one point last fall. The State Department is beset by so-called managers who, in fact, area unable to manage this process. Their recommendation: Throw more money at it.
I certainly support increasing the resources at the State Department for this crucial job. It is absurd in the extreme that State has only 37 licensing officers to process nearly 70,000 applications, while Commerce boasts over 70 officers for a comparatively-paltry workload of 23,000 licenses.
But increased resources alone will not fix the problem of mismanagement. Simply put, the management of arms licensing needs sustained attention and commitment by the senior leadership of the State Department to fix the problems – attention that has been lacking for several Administrations.
The Committee on Foreign Affairs will do its part in finding solutions, with or without the Administration’s help. This hearing is an important part of that process.
Let me be clear on two further
points. First, I am not an advocate of
cutting corners on national security, either to boost exports or to reduce the
long line built up at the arms licensing office. The recent treaty to exempt the
Second, I will do everything in my power to preserve and expand Congressional oversight over this process. I understand that the Administration is preparing changes to both munitions and so-called “dual-use” licensing procedures. I strongly advise the Administration to reflect on past experiences and to consult with Congress this time around – especially the Foreign Affairs Committees of the House and the Senate – before finalizing these changes.
The Executive Branch must treat Congress as the co-equal partner in governance that the Constitution mandates we are. But if it refuses to do so, Congress will be forced to assert its authority by less friendly means. It is the Administration’s choice which path we take.