tv U.S. House of Representatives House Debate on Calling for Russia to Release... CSPAN April 28, 2022 12:06am-12:25am EDT
the associated press is reporting on a surprise prisoner exchange between the u.s. and russia, 30-year-old marine veteran trevor reed had been serving a nine-year sentence in russia after being arrested in 20 19 for allegedly assaulting a police officer. he has now been released in exchange for a russian pilot who is jailed in the u.s. for conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the country. the ap says, even as the biden administration forwarded the swarm, it made clear the resolution did not herald a broader rate through between their countries, in reference to the outgoing tensions of the war in ukraine. in a separate matter the house is now approved a resolution calling for the release of another american detained in russia, michigan businessmen paul we lin was arrested in december of 2018 on an espionage charge. he was later convicted and sentenced to 16 years in prison. the resolution calling for his release was unanimously passed. here's the floor debate.
mr. philips: i rise today in strong support of h.res. 336. calling on government of the russian federation to provide evidence or to release united states citizen paul whelan. i thank representative stevens for her tireless work on behalf of her constituent, paul whelan, who russia has held hostage as a political prisoner for three years. for more than 1,300 days the russian government has put paul and his family through unimaginable torment. taking away his freedom, threatening his health, denying him his most basic human rights. all for the purpose of using an american constituent disen -- citizen, a human being, as a political bargaining chip. their so-called justice system is shocking unhardly surprising. as we witnessed the who arors committed by putin, enablers, and russian forces in ukraine, we are reminded of the lengths the authoritarian regime and kremlin will go to achieve its
nefarious objectives. neither paul nor any political prisoner is a tool to be used to an end. they are just want to see justice served and see their loved ones home safe and sound. in light of the horrific treatment paul has endured, i want to thank our diplomats in russia, particularly the ambassador, as well as special envoy for hostage affairs, roger carstens, working under treatment pressure from the russian government to see paul whelan, brittany griner, and other americans in russia are treated with dignity and human rights respected. good news today we are thrilled in large part to their work trevor reed is on his way home. we cannot stop until paul's family and other families with americans detained overseas are given that same relief. these families work tirelessly to remind us we cannot stop pushing. they deserve that same level of dedication from all of us. house resolution 336 calling on the government of the russian federation to provide evidence or release united states citizen
paul whelan takes another step towards securing that safety and swift release of american citizens from unjust detention abroad. i support this important resolution. and thank the gentlelady from michigan once again for introducing it. i urge all members to vote in support. i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from minnesota reserves. the gentleman from south carolina is recognized. mr. wilson: thank you, mr. speaker. i yield myself such time as i may consume. i am grateful to be here today with congressman dean philips as we work together uncontinue tensionally united by putin as democrats and republicans are united for freedom. mr. speaker, on december 28, 2018, u.s. citizen paul whelan was wrongfully arrested in moscow. on june 15, 2020 he was sentenced to 16 years in a putin labor camp. he remains behind bars to this day for a crime he did not commit. no real evidence of paul's guilt was ever provided. defense witnesses were excluded. and he was denied a fair trial.
u.s. ambassador john sullivan described paul's wrongful conviction right. a mockery of justice. paul is an american and u.s. marine corps veteran. the u.s. congress cannot remain silent as paul remains unjustly held by the thug in the kremlin. the resolution we are considering today shows we have not forgotten and will never forget paul or any other american wrongfully detained in russia. i was thrilled and relieved today to learn that trevor reed has been released from his unjust detention in russia. trevor, another former u.s. marine, spent three years behind bars on completely fabricated charges. however, we cannot rest until paul and every single wrongfully detained american is home safely with their families as well. as it launched its full-scale murderous invasion of ukraine, the putin regime has stepped up its practice of pargeting --
targeting americans for unfounded detentions. in february brittany griner, a wnba women's, women's national bhct association player, was arrested for allegedly bringing drugs into russia. she face the up to 10 years in prison if convicted. i fear she, too, will be held a hostage by the russian dictator and i appreciate her member of congress, sheila jackson lee of houston, being such an outspoken proponent for her release. i would be remiss not to mention one of the fiercest advocates of the democratic russia who has been poisoned twice by the putin regime. faces up to 15 years in prison for speaking the truth about putin's unprovoked war of aggression and murder in ukraine. he is a brave freedom fighter who does not deserve to be locked up for shining a light on putin's brutality and corruption. putin must stop using innocent americans as diplomatic pawns
and release them immediately. i urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this resolution so paul and his family know that the u.s. congress stands with them. democrats and republicans, and will do everything in our power to make sure paul can join trevor in coming back home. i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from south carolina reserves. the gentleman from minnesota is recognized. mr. philips: thank you, mr. speaker. i yield three minutes to the gentlewoman from michigan, ms. stevens. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman from michigan is recognized. ms. stevens: mr. speaker, i rise today as i have every day i have served in this very chamber. on behalf of my constituent, paul whelan. who has been wrongfully detained in russia since the end of december, 2018. throughout mr. whelan's detention, the russian government has repeatedly violated his rights, denied him proper medical care, and refused to provide any evidence to substantiate the charges against
him. he was held in a pretrial detention for over 18 months in the notorious prison. then mr. whelan's trial was held behind closed door and his defense was prohibited from calling witnesses. mr. whelan now serves he 16 and facing harsh conditions. early this morning the news broke that fellow american trefer reed, a marine and texan was freed through a prisoner swap orchestrated by president biden. this is incredible news. this is incredible news for mr. reed and this family and paul and his family deserve the same joy and relief.
paul has been in prison and had years stolen from him and precious time with his parents and siblings and he has lost his home, his job, his beloved dog and so much more. i want to see my constituent back home. this innocent man has had his life and livelihood stolen from him by putin. today we have the opportunity as a congress to denounce paul's wrongful imprisonment and stand up to the lawlessness of the putin regime. in the years since paul's detention we have seen putin further isolate himself on the world stage as his government has gone to lawlessness leading to threats and we have witnessed the loss of ukranians and a
democratic nation is being destroyed at the directive of this dangerous war criminal. we must stand up in this chamber. i want to thank my colleagues and mr. keating and i would like to recognize the chairman, mr. meeks, and ranking member, mr. mccaul. paul, if you are watching this, know that i am prying and rooting for you and i will never stop fighting for you. let's pass h. res. 336 immediately. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman from michigan yields back. the gentleman from minnesota. mr. phillips: i have no requests for time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from south carolina is recognized. mr. wilson: i yield threements to the gentleman from arkansas, mr. hill. i. the gentleman is recognized mr. hill: let me thank my friend from south carolina and my friend mr. phillips for leading the debate. we gather on the house floor in
unity, republicans and democrats, to counter putin's behavior. last year, i co-founded the first congressional task force for american hostages and americans wrongfully detained aprod with ted deutch and thank ms. stevens and i rise in strong support of this resolution by calls for the release of paul whelan. we have heard today some of the details of paul's arrest and two years in pretrial detention with evidence publicly presented justifying wrongdoing. all parts of our government, especially members of congress who represent the families of those held hostage or wrongfully detained must engage with friends and enemies alike to ensure that americans are
expeditiously brought home. congress must continue to engage with the administration in situations like this to disincentivize the wrongful detention or hostage taking of americans. we passed a similar resolution on this floor in support and it was rewarding to know that trevor was released and never been held. today, mr. speaker, republicans and democrats, let us issue a message to paul whelan, we have not forgotten you. countries must stop this disgraceful process and held accountable. i urge my colleagues to support this resolution and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from arkansas yields back. the gentleman from south
carolina. mr. wilson: i yield three minutes to the gentleman from michigan, mr. walberg. mr. walberg: i rise today in support of house resolution 336 and once again call on the russian government to release american citizens paul whelan. i thank my colleague congresswoman stevens for her undying leadership in fighting this travesty, and it is a travesty. it has now been over three years since paul whelan, a michigan resident and marine veteran and an american citizen was imprisoned in russia without proper evidence or a trial. sham trial that is the message that paul wanted to convey while the system handed out a
ridiculous sentence. he has been denied access to proper medical treatment despite a sharp decline in his health. i returned from ukraine where russian atrocities have been on display to the entire world. make no mistake about that. we saw heartbreaking devastation that has impacted so many lives, but tragically putin's barbaric behavior is not new. he has no concern for even the most basic of human rights. today, the house must send an unequivocal message to the kremlin and time to end the mall treatment of paul wheel and and mr. reed was released today. we are calling for paul to be next. i want to close with a message to paul's dear parents rosemary
and ed who live in my district, manchester, michigan and toll paul's siblings, elizabeth, david and andrew. i know this has been an incredibly trying time for your family. i admire your resolve in the face of adversity. i grieve with you, i pray for you, and i continue to stand with you. it is time for paul whelan to come home to michigan. and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from michigan yields back. the gentleman from south carolina reserves. the gentleman from minnesota is recognized. mr. phillips: i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time the gentleman from south carolina is recognized. mr. wilson: i yield myself such time as i may consume. in closing, i would like to thank representative stevens for her work on this resolution. you can tell it's from the heart
and working together republicans and democrats and how fortunate we are with the leadership of congressman walberg to have this weekend spent the orthodox christian easter weekend in ukraine, to visit kyiv and be in the buca region where the atrocities were so horrific and victor sparks was born in soviet ukraine and has become a free ukraine. our country is so blessed by the number of ukranians who live in our country and support the victory for freedom in ukraine. as the world watches putin committing crimes and he has
exploited people as political pawns. join in supporting this resolution and will send a strong message to paul and other wrongfully detained americans in russia that congress will not rest until they are returned home to their families. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from minnesota is recognized. mr. phillips: i yield myself such time for the purpose of closing. i thank my dear friend ukraine-united states solidarity pin. freedom is at the core of our american values and it is the backbone of democracy. we have americans stuck in russia and around the world without their will to be used as political bargaining chips. during this time, their safe and secure release is all the more imperative. h. res. 336 takes action to secure the safety including
>> service was held at washingn national cathedral. president biden was there to speak about her life and legacy, calling her a light to those in the darkest places. other speakers included bill and hillary clinton and madeleine albright's daughters. she is remembered as the first woman to service secretary of state. she died march 23 at the age of 84. >>. [ choir singing "ode to joy"]
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