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Budd, Cardin, Risch, Ernst, Tillis, Coons, Blumenthal, & Rosen Issue Bipartisan Statement Calling on Qatar to Renew Pressure on Hamas to Release Hostages

Washington, D.C. — Senator Ted Budd (R-NC) has joined Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Jim Risch (R-ID), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as well as Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Chris Coons (D-DE), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) to issue a statement on bilateral relations between the United States and Qatar and efforts to mediate the release of all hostages taken by Hamas.

The statement reads:

“The United States and Qatar have enjoyed close relations and cooperation on economic and security issues for more than 50 years. This has been acutely important in the aftermath of the horrific events of October 7th and Hamas’ ongoing holding of more than 134 hostages, including at least 8 Americans. 

“We appreciate the work Qatar has undertaken so far to mediate the release of hostages and urge Qatar to redouble its efforts and use all its leverage to secure the immediate release of all those taken by Hamas in its heinous October 7 attack.

“If Hamas refuses reasonable negotiations, there is no reason for Qatar to continue hosting Hamas’ political office or any of its members in Doha. It is incumbent upon like-minded nations to work together to deny terrorist organizations, like Hamas, the financial support or safe havens that allow them to metastasize or seek legitimacy.

“Qatar is a vital U.S. partner in maintaining peace and stability in the Middle East, and we look forward to 50 more years of even stronger partnership.”

Background:

On October 25, 2023, Senator Budd first spoke about the hostage situation in Gaza on the Senate floor, where he announced his intention “to hold all humanitarian aid to Gaza until each and every American hostage is home and is safe.”

On November 6, 2023, Senator Budd met with Qatari Ambassador Meshal Al Thani in Senator Budd’s Washington, D.C. office. In that meeting, he strongly urged the Qatari government to use their leverage on Hamas leaders currently residing in Doha to immediately release all hostages, and hold those same Hamas leaders accountable once the hostage situation is fully resolved.

On November 26, 2023, Senator Budd reacted to the release of Keith Siegel’s wife, Aviva, saying, “While we are encouraged by the government of Qatar’s efforts to mediate the release of some of the hostages, we renew our call to their government to exert pressure on Hamas leadership to release each and every hostage immediately and unconditionally.”

On November 28, 2023, Senator Budd spoke on the Senate floor and called out Qatar for its continued hosting of Hamas terrorist leaders, saying, “We need to tell our friends in Doha loudly and clearly: Qatar is accepting a significant liability with its pro-Hamas policy.”

On December 13, 2023, Senator Budd sent a holiday message of support to the hostages and their families in a speech on the Senate floor, saying, “I want every one of these family members to know that our country is behind them, we support them, and we are praying for them.”

On January 10, 2024, Senator Budd returned from a congressional delegation (CODEL) to the Middle East, which included stops in Israel, Egypt, Qatar, and Bahrain. The focus of the delegation’s meetings across the region was on securing the release of hostages. 

On the trip, Senator Budd and his colleagues toured one of the communities devastated by the October 7th massacre by Hamas terrorists. He personally spoke with former hostage Aviva Siegel, and met with top Israeli officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mossad Director David Barnea.

Senator Budd then met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and the Prime Minister of Qatar, to whom Senator Budd sent a strong message that Qatar must do more to secure the immediate and safe release of all of the hostages.

On January 15, 2024, Senators Budd and Joni Ernst (R-IA) published an op-ed marking the 100th day of captivity for the hostages, writing, “As long as Americans remain captive to these barbaric thugs, the latter is the victor. Allowing Americans to suffer under the yoke of terrorists is a win for evil around the world and a boon for Iran’s proxies.”

On January 25, 2024, Senator Budd spoke on the Senate floor and delivered a sharp message to the government of Qatar: “Our patience has run out. Time is up. Either pressure Hamas leaders to release the hostages now, or expel them from your land. It’s that simple. The United States of America will be watching.”

On March 7, 2024, Senators Budd and Tillis invited the family of Keith Siegel to be their guests at the president’s State of the Union Address. Keith’s sister Lucy and niece Hanna have accepted the Senators’ invitation.

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