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CAIR Friday Legislative Roundup: Three Steps Forward, One Step Back

This week, Congress voted on three important legislative measures affecting the international Muslim community. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, breaks down each of these bills.

Senate Approves, but House Rejects, Joint Resolution That Would Have Withdrawn U.S. Military from Yemen

Yesterday, the U.S. Senate passed Senate Joint Resolution 54, directing President Trump to remove U.S. Armed Forces from hostilities in Yemen, except those engaged in operations directed at Al Qaeda, within 30 days unless: (1) the President requests and Congress authorizes a later date, or (2) a declaration of war or specific authorization for the use of the Armed Forces has been enacted by Congress.

Introduced by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Mike Lee (R-UT), the Senate adopted the bipartisan bill by a vote of 56 “YES” to 41 “NO,” with all Democratic Party members voting “YES” in support, six Republican Party members working across the aisle to vote in support, and 3 Republican Party members abstaining.

The Republicans that voted in support of the resolution were Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Steve Daines (R-MT), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Todd Young (R-IN).

However, the House preemptively blocked a similar measure on Yemen a few hours earlier in a vote of 206 “YES” to 203 “NO” in support of halting consideration of any debate in the House on congressional war powers with regards to Yemen for the remainder of the 115th Congress, which ends this year. Republicans in the House argued that Democrats can debate the issue of withdrawing the U.S. military from Yemen in January when they take control.

CAIR notes that Joint Resolutions require the approval of both chambers and the signature of the president to become laws.

On November 27, CAIR issued an action alert urging both the House and Senate to adopt S.J.Res. 54. The war in Yemen, which began in 2015 when a coalition of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia launched a campaign to oust Houthi rebels that had taken over the Yemeni capital, has taken the lives of more than 50,000 and displaced some 3 million people. Save the Children estimates that an additional 85,000 Yemeni children may have died from starvation or disease since the fighting began.

Fifty prominent figures, including two former U.S. ambassadors to Yemen, leading law professors, a Nobel Peace Laureate, and Noam Chomsky, sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) urging them to pass S.J.Res. 54.

CAIR Welcomes House Approving Resolution Calling Burma’s Murder of Muslims ”˜Genocide’

Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted House Resolution 1091, which expresses the sense of the House of Representatives that the atrocities committed against the Rohingya by the Burmese military and security forces since August 2017 constitute crimes against humanity and genocide. It also calls on the Government of Burma to release Burmese journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo sentenced to seven years imprisonment after investigating the attacks.

The House agreed to adopt the resolution by a vote of 394 “YES” to 1 “NO,” with Arizona Congressman Andrew Steven Biggs being the only representative in Congress to vote against recognizing Burma’s genocidal targeting of Rohingya Muslims.

On December 5, CAIR issued an action alert urging members of Congress to support H.Res. 1091.

CAIR Welcomes Senate Adoption of Resolution Condemning the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi, Supporting Diplomatic Solution in Yemen

Yesterday, the U.S. Senate adopted by voice vote Senate Joint Resolution 69, which clearly expresses the sense of the Senate that Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is responsible for the murder of Virginia resident and Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi. #JusticeforJamal

The resolution is the clearest and most public rebuke the U.S. government has provided in response to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman issuing misleading statements about and ordering the murder of Khashoggi.

The resolution also demanded that all parties in the ongoing civil war in Yemen seek an immediate cease-fire and negotiated political solution to conflict and increased humanitarian assistance to the victims of the conflict.

The joint resolution is not expected to be taken up by the House for the remainder of this Congress and will have to be voted on again in the next Congress to pass and be sent to President Trump.

On December 6, CAIR applauded the introduction of a similar Senate resolution blaming Prince Mohammed bin Salman for Khashoggi’s murder.

CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.

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CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, ihooper@cair.com; CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw, 202-742-6448, rmccaw@cair.com

 

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