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Theodore D.
Democrat FL 21

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  • Calling on Government of Iran to Assist in Case of Robert Levinson

    by Representative Theodore E. Deutch

    Posted on 2016-02-29

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    DEUTCH. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

    I rise in support of the resolution.

    I thank my good friend and partner, Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen, along with Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz and Congressman Diaz-Balart, for introducing this resolution with me and for their commitment to raising awareness to Bob Levinson's case and for always pushing for Bob's return.

    I thank Chairman Royce and Ranking Member Engel for helping to swiftly move this resolution to the floor as we prepare to mark the anniversary of Bob Levinson's disappearance. I thank Senator Nelson for spearheading a similar resolution, which passed the Senate earlier this month. I also thank all of my colleagues who have cosponsored this resolution.

    {time} 1700 Passing this resolution today is particularly significant. This Saturday, March 5, 2016, members of Bob's community in my district in south Florida will come together for a rally in support of the Levinson family and call for Bob's immediate return. Just 4 days later, on March 9, we will mark the ninth anniversary of Bob's disappearance from Kish Island in Iran.

    When we received word in January that our government negotiated for the release of four Americans imprisoned in Iran, we welcomed the news. These were Americans who were wrongfully held, and this move made very clear that the United States does not forget about its own people.

    We rejoiced as Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini, and Jason Rezaian were reunited with their families. Our colleagues, Congressmen Kildee, Huffman, and Labrador, have been tireless, tireless advocates for the release of their constituents. I am so pleased that each of them has returned to the United States. For their families, Mr. Speaker, the nightmare is over. Unfortunately, the nightmare continues for my constituents, the Levinson family.

    Bob is now the longest held hostage in American history. Bob has now missed 9 years of birthdays with his seven children, anniversaries with his wife, Christine, weddings, the births of three of his four grandchildren, and so many other happy occasions that should have been celebrated together as a family. This is a family who, for 9 years, has never given up on bringing their husband, their father home.

    We were so fortunate to be joined by Bob's wife, Christine, and his eldest son, Dan, when we passed this resolution in committee some weeks ago. We had the opportunity to tell them directly that this Congress will not forget about Bob. By passing this resolution today, this House of Representatives will now tell the world that we will never forget about Bob.

    Bob Levinson dedicated his life to serving this country, first with the DEA and then over 20 years as an FBI agent. Bob is a patriot who loves this country dearly, and now, Mr. Speaker, it is time for this country to come through for Bob.

    Over the years, the Levinson family has received proof of life in the form of pictures and video. We are grateful that throughout the nuclear negotiations with Iran, Secretary Kerry and others raised Bob's case at every single meeting, and we have been told that the deal to release the other Americans opened new avenues for consultation on Bob's case. But we cannot wait. Whatever information Iran has about Bob needs to be provided now so that Bob can be brought home.

    This resolution before us today calls on Iran to follow through on its repeated promises of assisting the United States in locating Bob. The resolution calls on our government and those of our partners and allies to continue to press Iran for information about Bob at every opportunity.

    President Obama and Secretary Kerry have repeatedly expressed their commitment to securing Bob's release, and Secretary Kerry reiterated that commitment during testimony in the House just last week. President Obama has stated in January, when referencing Bob's case, he said ``we will not rest until their family is whole again.'' [[Page H1015]] For anyone who is watching this debate today, I encourage you to share this information about Bob Levinson, to tweet about Bob Levinson, to use the hashtag #whataboutbob.

    For those in south Florida, I encourage you to come to support the Levinson family this Saturday in Coral Springs. We must keep talking about Bob. We must raise the level of awareness about Bob's case.

    Our government and the government of our friends and allies must continue to work tirelessly to find Bob and to bring him home. The newly elected Parliament in Iran must know that we will never rest until Bob is home.

    Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

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