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House Debates Divestment from Darfur

Posted on by Jesse Lee

In June the Oversight Committee held a hearing on China, which is hosting the 2008 Olympics, to use its unique influence and economic leverage to stop genocide and violence in Darfur. Having continually pressed President Bush to do more to stop this genocide, Speaker Pelosi also raised the issue with Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi in May. Today the House will vote on whether to use America’s influence and economic leverage with H.R.180, To require the identification of companies that conduct business operations in Sudan, to prohibit United States Government contracts with such companies, and for other purposes. Congressional Quarterly reported on the legislation after it was marked up on Thursday:

House Panel Seeks to Force Divestment From Sudan
CQ Today – July 26, 2007

Legislation designed to intensify pressure on Sudan to halt the genocide in its Darfur region was approved by the House Financial Services Committee by voice vote Thursday.

The bill (HR 180), sponsored by Barbara Lee, D-Calif., would bar federal contracts with companies that do business with the Sudanese government.

It also would allow state and local governments to bar such contracts.

The measure would direct the Treasury Department to compile a list of companies doing business with Sudan, a list that does not now exist, and then bar federal contracts with those companies.

Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank opens debate on the bill:

Chairman Frank:
“I had a great day years ago, Mr. Speaker, standing in Statuary Hall just away from this chamber and hear Nelson Mandela thank the Congress of the United States because we’d enacted sanctions, and he said that the enactment of sanctions by the US as part of a world-wide enactment of sancitons brought to an end of an Apartheid earlier than it could have. Our former colleague Mr. Dellums, now the mayor of Oakland, had a very proud day then, he’d been the leader of it. And it’s very fitting that the initiator of the bill we are dealing with today is his successor, the gentlewoman from California, Ms. Lee, who has been the driving force in the bill we have before us.”

Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-09), the primary sponsor of the bill, speaks in favor:

Rep. Lee:
“Three years ago under the leadership of our good friend, Congressman Don Payne, Congress formally declared that the genocide was taking place in Darfur. Today the genocide is getting worse. I have witnessed this horror on three occasions in Darfur and let me tell you, it is getting worse. Mr. Speaker, many of us in a bipartisan effort have spoken out repeatedly on the Floor over the last three years in condemnation of the ongoing genocide in Darfur. These efforts have only intensified as we have sought to use each and every tool at our disposal to bring this genocide to an end.”
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