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tv   Reps. Michael Mc Caul James Mc Govern on Religious Freedom  CSPAN  February 1, 2023 7:27am-8:10am EST

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>> ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 2,023 international religious freedom summit. please welcome the chairs doctor katrina katrina lantos swett and ambassador sam brownback. >> good morning, good morning, katrina. i will join you on stage here for summer 2023. we are going to have a fantastic event. i believe this will be an epic event we are going to have, the relationships built here in the activities coming out of here
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will literally change the world and we need to change this world where there is so much persecution, so much difficulty taking place to religious people all over the world of all stripes. we have got a pretty simple theme for the summit. it is a bumper sticker. i come from the political world and bumper stickers, if you can't get your thought down to a bumper sticker you can't convey it. religious freedom for everybody, everywhere, all the time. that's the theme. that is what we are about. without is what we do. the beauty of it is this is a god-given right that unfortunately is being trampled on, limited or threatened everywhere around the world. it is a right in the original charter, the un human rights charter, it is a mighty and deep human right. it is a human right which is most important to us, that is it is the human right of the
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soul. human right so profound and central to us that we are, as humans, people will often suffer and even die for this human right. it is a right authoritarian regimes and governments fear. if people of every faith stand strong and together for this fundamental human dignity there is no government that -- >> there we go. 80% of the people in the world identify with our faith or religion, no government can put down 80% of their people. that is another point. if we don't respect each other's freedom of religion, we will have a clash of civilizations. we are already seeing this.
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civilization this clash and the underpinnings of that are religions that are in clash. hours is a huge task, freedom for the soul, and respect for each other. we will not talk about theology from this stage because we don't agree on theology. we will talk about a common human right, freedom to do with my own soul what i see fit. we want collaboration from this event. we are gathering and fighting for the abused, beaten, even killed religious minorities that even now are huddled in secret places yearning with all their heart to worship god has they believe they should. is that too much to ask? it is not. what we are doing is a worthwhile task the weekly part of our inheritance in heaven. when we fight and save a life or help free a soul from tierney, we literally change the world. it is a noble cause.
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it is unusual and uncommon work, but let's get about it. let's change the world. welcome to earth summit 2023. [applause] >> it is wonderful to be with all of you. the word hope is one that is often far from my lips apart over the last few months, let me tell you a few of the ways in which i have been using that word. i hope we will have the resources to make this earth summit happen, check. i hope the we will be able to get fantastic speakers to come and and lighten and educate our participants, we have definitely done that. i hope that friends and fellow activists around the world will be able to join us so this will truly be an international religious freedom summit, that too has come to pass, more prospectively, i have thought that i hope the results of this
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wonderful gathering will be greater awareness, changes in policies, alleviation of suffering, strength in networks of support and compassion. i am optimistic because optimism is a quality of hope, that in fact some of those goals will be achieved. it as the summit begins i find myself remembering recalling another definition of hope, one offered by the czechoslovakian dissident and author and political prisoner who spent many years in jail before becoming the first democratically chosen leader of czechoslovakia and the czech republic. he had a more muscular and i would say even heroic definition of hope. he said hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well. but the certainteed that
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something makes sense regardless of how it turns out. my friends, i have a deep certainty that our work to defend and advance freedom of religion, conscience, and belief, for everyone everywhere all the time makes profound sense. in fact, it makes more sense than almost any worthy because we could dedicate ourselves to. we are, as my colleagues said, fighting for the most fundamental of human rights, the right for each of us to live our lives in accordance to the dictates of our own conscience. we know societies do a good job protecting this first freedom also protect the full range of other precious rights that we cherish whether it is freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press and more. societies that defend religious freedom are more peaceful, less likely to intubate extremism, and interestingly, women do
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better in these societies. we can have that certainty that what we are doing makes sense. but what about the rest of his definition? that we claim hope for this worthy endeavor regardless of how things turn out. in the last two days we've been talking about tragedies around the world, one that resonates in great sorrow with me is the massacre, the intentional massacre of 9 ahmadi believers dragged out of their mask and one by one ordered to renounce their faith or face death. each one of them stayed true to their faith and was murdered, massacred in front of the eyes of their families and friends. how do we square hope with what is sometimes a very daunting and devastating reality of the
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repression of religious freedom in so many parts of the world? i really do believe that true hope comes from the knowledge that you and i have anchored our life and our work in the pursuit of something of these right and lasting and true. we are doing that work at this wonderful summit and i truly believe that in that sense, we can have hope that the seeds we are sowing, the trees we are cultivating will most assuredly bear fruit in time. with that said, let's get to work. thank you so much. [applause] >> a warm welcome to chairman of the house foreign affairs committee, congressman michael mccaul, and cochair of the
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human rights commission, congressman jim mcgovern, in conversation with president of the family research council tony perkins and executive director of the aspen institute for religion and society program, doctor simran jeet singh. >> thank you. thanks to all of you, nice to be here today. i wish i had a better story, i was picking up a piece of luggage and my bicep tore. again a little bit older but what a great conference. thanks for having me. pope francis once said religious freedom is a
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fundamental human right, that is why religious freedom is a cornerstone of a free society especially in the united states where it is enshrined in our constitution. our founding fathers said congress shall make no law recession respecting establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. we often call it the first freedom, not only because it is first in the bill of rights because it is the right from which all other rights flow. religious freedom is part of our national identity. that is why it is a critical component of us foreign policy. united states must be a voice for the voiceless who are persecuted for their beliefs. i was proud when congress reauthorized the united states commission on international religious freedom last year. this program can now continue to shine a light on persecution around the world and i want to thank the commission for its
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important work. trejo, religious freedom remains increasingly under assault around the world. in china the chinese communist party is conducting an all-out assault on religion. as we speak here today, they are attempting to completely dismantle the tibetan buddhism, the dalai lama they persecute christians who refuse to turn their backs on their faith and to join government controlled churches. they are committing genocide against leaguer muslims. stories of forced abortions, brainwashing and even murder are horrifying. that is why i was honored to lead a resolution condemning the ccp's genocide against the leaguers to pass the house in 2,020 one. i want to thank my good friend congressman jim make a deferent, and to work on these bills together. the situation has declined
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since the united states withdrew. paving the way for the taliban and to take over. afghans, many of whom only knew the freedoms for the last 20 years are forced to live under sharia law. the taliban is hunting down christians and other non-muslims. they live in fear of being killed for their faith and it is the women in afghanistan who suffered the most. women no longer have rights. they must remain fully covered outside their homes, can't go to school, can't go outside without a male companion. that is heartbreaking to me, to see what their lives have become. the women in afghanistan, the brutal regime in iran continues to persecute women under the
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guise of religion, 22 years old, young woman, for not wearing her hjab correctly. women have taken to the streets to protest the iranian regime and to demand freedom. to those listening, we stand with you. in africa, open doors report in january this year that nigeria accounted for 90% of the total number of christians killed and kidnapped worldwide in 2,022. in our hemisphere the ortega regime in nicaragua continues to attack the catholic church. they have imprisoned priests including bishop alvarez, principally speaking out in support of religious freedom and human rights. globally, anti-semitism is tragically still on the rise. last week, 7 people were killed, three more injured in
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an attack on a synagogue in jerusalem. that is why i am proud to introduce the holocaust education and anti-semitism act or the heel act. this bill will help improve holocaust education so future generations of americans are empowered to stand up for what is right. my father fought in that war. my children take it is ancient history. for me it is one lifetime away and our children need to learn the story. as chairman of the house foreign affairs committee, i want to assure you i will continue to keep religious freedom at the forefront of america's foreign policy. that includes doing everything we can to shine a light on abuses of religious freedom around the world and it includes holding perpetrators accountable. we must send advance policies to protect the persecuted and must help the diaspora in america at family and friends that have been persecuted for
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their faith because protecting religious freedom isn't just about doing what is right. it is a matter of national security. by resolving conflict, we can help prevent terrorism at home and abroad. as religious freedom advance, conflict recedes. in closing i would like to read a quote. it has always inspired me. when he said, quote, religious freedom and a central requirement of the dignity of every person is a cornerstone of the structure of human rights and for this reason, an irreplaceable factor, the good of individuals and the whole of society as well as personal fulfillment of each individual. i want to thank all of you again today, let stand for. 's is freedom. thank you.
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>> good morning, everybody. i am congressman jim mcgovern of massachusetts and i think the lantos foundation for inviting me to say a few words. as the religious freedom summit gets underway and i'm honored to be here with my good friend, the foreign affairs committee chairman mike mccall. we may be of different parties but we have a lot of common ground, we work together especially on issues regarding human rights. i am happy to be here with simran jeet singh and tony perkins and appreciate your commitment to these issues. for the past several years i have cochaired the human rights commission in the house of representatives and i hope to have that honor again in the one hundred eighteenth congress. in that capacity, i can tell you the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, is one of the rights we've most often taken up in hearings and briefings. that is because the right to
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practice one's religion of choice is frequently violated by governments all over the world. some examples that come to mind will be well known to everyone. uighurs in china, coptic christians in egypt, muslims in burma. are marty muslims in pakistan. in iran, she muslims and sunni governed countries, catholics in nicaragua, jews in france, i go on and on and on, the list is too long. as a practicing catholic myself, i know how important and how personal the right to freedom of religion is. i'm very aware my right to freedom of religion is only as strong is that of my muslim or hindu or buddhist neighbor and in our diverse world unless the right to freedom of religion exists for everyone, it doesn't
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truly exist for anyone. the question that brings us together on this panel is why international religious freedom is vital to us foreign policy and i believe the answer is clear. americans value the right to religious freedom very highly. it is a fundamental right guaranteed in the first amendment to our own constitution alongside the rights to freedom of speech and assembly. these are part of who we are and also enshrined in the universal declaration of human rights, whose drafting and adoption in 1948 were led by the united states. in addition, countries where religious freedoms are under attack are often countries where repression and instability are the norm. the harder question may be how best to promote the right to wrote freedom of religion and here is my view. first, we should lead by example. this is focused on
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international religious freedom but we cannot expect other countries to take us seriously unless we address threats to religious freedom here at home. anti-semitism is on the rise in the united states and islamohphobia is wide spread. i am sure simran jeet singh can talk about the pressures certain communities into her. only if we do all we can to combat these threats, attacks, and disdain toward religious minorities at home can we expect what we say on the world stage to have the impact that we want. second, i get concerned when the right to religious freedom is separated from other human rights. the right to religious freedom does not exist in a vacuum. it is one of a set of universal human rights that are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. it is not possible to exercise the right to religious freedom in isolation from other human rights. we forget that at our peril.
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third, we must guard against the temptation to allow claims of religious freedom to be used to deny the rights of entire populations. the lgbt q community or others. when we privilege one religion at the expense of others we open the door discrimination to imposing the beliefs of some who think differently and to political leaders using their power to give the dictates of one religion for force of law. that behavior is the definition of violation of the right to religious freedom. i want to close by highlighting one deadly example of religious intolerance. yesterday, the muslim community told me about the cold-blooded execution of 9 of their
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adherence on july 11th. no question the men were killed because of their beliefs. they were told to renounce their faith or die. i hope everyone attending the summit whatever their tradition, will condemn this heinous act and demand respect for the religious freedom of are marty muslims because anything else would go against values and principles we all claim to support. i thank all of you for your dedication to upholding religious freedom for everyone on this planet and look forward to the discussion. thank you. [applause] >> thank you for your remarks. representative mcgovern, i want to pick up on things you raised and explore them. like you these issues are personal to me. my family came to this country escaping religious persecution in india. right now we are seeing persecution in india on the basis of religious difference
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in other parts of the world. i want to show you my uber driver yesterday after i'd got in the car, the conversation with the driver, from afghanistan before the taliban and take over, he was telling me he grew up five minutes from the state, spend time with the community, to eat dinner there and what we know now is a few decades ago there were 200,000 in afghanistan, now there are 9, not 900, not 9000, nine. it is on the basis of religious persecution. this is what is in my heart today as it is with many of you with the communities you work with. part of what you raise here and we are thinking about, when we look at places like afghanistan, china, nicaragua,
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iran, we see how the privileging of single religious community can come at the expense of others and how privilegeing religious freedom over other human rights can lead to other kinds of oprah fresh and and violence and you raise this in your remarks and i would love to hear from you, what is the antidote to these experiences we are seeing around the world. how do we shift culture in a way that everyone in the world has the opportunity to rise equally? >> that is a very important question and the answer is complicated but as i said in my remarks i do think in this country we can serve as an example by doing a better job combating religious intolerance and persecution in this country.
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we are not doing a good enough job. to those who say there' s not much we can do i disagree with that, but we could be a model. we need to be more consistent in our advocacy for religious freedom, human rights in general. i worry, we pick and choose where we want to express our outrage. often where we have strategic interests and economic interests, we tend to soft pedal the abuses that are ongoing. we need to be more consistent. as a member of congress, we need to stand out loud and forceful for human rights and to be consistent, we are not always consistent. we have to do a better job having the backs of those who are being persecuted and
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helping to uplift their cause. i champion the human rights commission. we have a program, the prisoners of conscience campaign where there are many people arrested all over the world, prisoners of conscience because of their religion so we try to give them voice. we need to be consistent, all inclusive and use our voices to demand that things change, that we respect everybody for what they believe and who they are. >> the story i heard was another speaker's race was contentious but another chairman's race even more so. i hate to see what happened. you mentioned china. there is an area where there is clear bipartisan support.
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as former chair of the us commission on national religious freedom, former speaker pelosi's outspoken support for religious minorities in china there is support there but a growing concern with china exporting their technology and repressive means to other countries even in this hemisphere. as chairman of the foreign affairs committee, what do you see going forward in a way to box china in. they are bad on human rights and religious freedom, but they are influencing many countries around the globe. how does that factor into your position going forward? >> it is horrific what they are doing, slave labor, talking about solar panels, batteries, most of that being manufactured where they commit genocide.
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they add biometrics to follow all their people within china. organ transplants where they force people, sedate them and take their organ this out and it is just horrific. some of the stories i hear coming out of the region not to mention jim and i have been involved, the dollar obama, kicked out of china, the tibetans were as well. we know the history of catholic priests in china. what you are referring to, one hundred 40 countries around the world now basically bringing their technology, their surveillance, they go into these countries, get them into our debt trap and take their rare earth minerals, bring their own workers in and typically countries will default on their debt, the imf
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bailed them out, and support a military base. a good example, in afghanistan, china is trying to get leases to one trillion dollars of lithium rare earth minerals and probably get access to bagram airbase. the end result is very unfortunate but what i see is the idea that we export our technology in china that allows them to build their most advanced weapons system and hypersonic weapons for instance, the one that can circle the globe with provision and land with a nuclear warhead built on the backbone of american technology. we need to stop doing this. the oprah ration is real. we are looking at something we haven't seen since world war ii, the largest invasion in europe since world war ii.
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now the ccp, looking at taiwan, and the pacific islands. they are there, the election in taiwan, they want to suppress the people and their religious freedom in that region of the world and putin's war crimes cannot go without notice. jim and i worked hard on the war crimes bill, we got past in the national defense authorization bill which was a great step forward but the religious persecution, you mentioned the muslims, very peaceful, loving muslims who were persecuted in pakistan. it is sad to see that is still happening in this world today. >> i appreciate that and offer a question if you are open to it. you invoked putin, talking
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about china with representative mcgovern, the religious freedom is a national security issue. if we look at what is happening in the world, that is true. also, there are economic questions. that plays into who are we willing to hold accountable and who are we not. i would love to hear you reflect on what mechanisms we need in place to ensure we are standing up to all perpetrators of religious persecution regardless of economic potential in addition to national security. >> on the economic side, it is important we have to compete, this is a global power
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competition. you have four nations, russia, china, iran, north korea, iran, and north korea, getting drones and artillery into ukraine, but freedom and democracy in the west. reagan, one of my favorites, was a champion for human rights. what would reagan do and ukraine? he would fight for the oppressed against the oppressor. he brought down the soviet union for what they stood for. that is the fight we find ourselves in today, in terms of economic freedom, we have to be present. we have to be on the field in africa for instance. when i talk to african ambassador, the united states is not investing in africa which will be the largest populated continent in the next decade. it is a question, our american investments, where we compete with the great power struggle,
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this is the struggle for the global balance of power, and economic ties are as important as security ties. we have certain mechanisms, the finance corporation and other things. we are going to work on ways to do this. when you lift the economic situation, if we do that in central america what we have a migration phenomenon we see on the southwest border? hitting the root cause of that, 85% are fleeing for economic reasons, some for political, some for religious freedom. but the economic conditions, if we can look, a rising tide floats all boats. >> i agree with what the chairman said. .. know, i think we need to raise the human rights at every level. not just a human rights conferences and not just the conferences that talk about religious freedoms and talk about investorring in other
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parts of the world and be respect for part of the condition has to be a respect for human rights. you can't persecute people because of the faith. you can't persecute people because of their gender or their sexual orientation or other ethnicity. that has to be part of the discussion. to be honest i've been around a long time under democratic and republican administrations. it's challenging when you deal with administrations, because it becomes uncomfortable. chairman mcauliffe mentioned the work we did on the weaker labor force prevention act. i'll be honest with you there were some powerful business interests in this country that were very much opposed to it. and it's not an easy thing to get over the hurdle. because were lots of economic interest entrenched on exploiting slave labor in the same john region. we're able to do it, thank left end and the in a bipartisan way which is important let's not underestimate their our forces it will talk the talk on human
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rights but not walk the walk. i think the child we have is how do you keep constructive pressure on so doing the right thing, even when it's uncomfortable, even when it's in a likee him even when somebody with strong economic ties with? because again as i said in her opening remarks if you don't, you're going to end up, the country that will presses their people for whatever reason will be a country that there will be violence and instability in the long run. and so it is not in our interest to just turn a blind eye to terrible oppression. >> could not agree more with that. i do think there's even a role for american consumers whenor yu look at what's coming out of china and those businesses that are exploiting those workforces. we have just got a few minutes left and i want to throw something here, blow everything up. i want to talk about nigeria. you mentioned it, chairman when
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i was serving as chair of the mission we weren't for the first time after years of recommendation able to see nigeria listed as a country of particular concern. congressman mcgovern you mentioned the complexities of this. there's no doubt that religious freedom is playing an issue in nigeria. we have seen this administration pull back saying no, it's more of an issue of scarcity of resources. clearly, there's an overlap, but how do we address the religious persecution, religious hostility aspect, amidst the other issues like the economic resource issues as well? >> it's very, africa, i passed the for julie global with lindsey graham to stabilize that part of africa were economic conditions are so bad that it breeds terrorism. so that's a component to this. and, of course, with the various
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terror organizations you have that religious freedoms that are being compromised. in the region. we do a lot of great -- the united states of america such a great powerful country. we did so great things for other people, global health fund, global malnutrition. where going to reauthorize pepfar on my committee that saved 250 million people in africa from aids. and so i think that when we do these things, first of all, we have to let them know this is coming from the united states of america. so we have the prestige of them knowing where it's coming from and the influence. i think we can also influence behavior. we are going to -- we don't want to reward that behavior. i think we get some leverage and pressure when it comes to some of these programs we administer, particularly and like you said nigeria and africa, to change
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that behavior. but it's not easy and you have to balance that. this is something jim and i work on. it's rare that you can pass the bill in congress knowing you're going tore save lives, and pepfr be a good example, 250 million lives. all the all the things we do is global health, global malnutrition.s really what i was taught as a catholic, the life of christ, the message of christ, is that like the missionary life. and i think we can influence the governance and behavior in those countries tond those programs. >> and i agree with, i can't believe i'm agreeing with myi' chairman on it. but i think, tony, you make in you mentioned there are not just religious freedom issues, there are other issues as f well. i think theer challenge we haves to make sure that when we
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address all of the issues, right? i'm thinking like, what's happening in nicaragua right now, catholic priest that are being targeted by the ortega regime. they are targeted not just because the priest, people are being targeted, the people who are standing up and professing their faith and allegiance to justice and fairness and human rights. and so it's not just the religion. it is also what they are standing for. or in india the case of father stan who died in india in custody. i mean, that has been labeled as an example of persecution against christians. i think that's true but he was also a victim, he was arrested under the antiterrorism laws that are being used to quite frankly threaten the rights of a whole range of people. and so i think we don't want, we don't want to under emphasize religious freedom aspect of some
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of these trouble places, but we don't want to over emphasize it either, that in a way might promote more sectarianism by the mine i get to solving the real issues. but i think there's a way to do this. we have to look at this holistically. it's not one thing that has to be part of the discussion. to the extent we do that we will have some success in making progress. look, this world is a really troubled place right now. and even on our own country we have some troubling issues and polarization andn violence. there's af way out of this, ani think many of the people in this room and as evidenced by the very diverse panel here, we probably wouldn't even agree on lunch, right? but here we are all coming together on the importance of focusing more attention on these issues and being more consistent and be more forthright and be more effective. so anyway, but thank you. >> congressman mcgovern, chairman mccaul, thank youou for being with us.
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simran, thank you. would you please thank our congressman for being here and joining us? [applause] >> is c-span's online store. browse through her latest collection c-span products, apparel, books, home decor and accessories. there's something for every c-span fan, and of your purchase helps support our nonprofit operations. shop now or anytime at >> c-span is your unfiltered view of government. we are funded by the television
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