Floor Statement on the Crisis in Darfur

i thank my friend, mr. ackerman. i thank him for his leadership and commitment for decades to issues of human rights, humanitarian concerns and TimeCode: 11:17:16.5 peace. i thank my friend, barbara lee, who has been an extraordinary leader. she worked for a gentleman that is a great hero of mine who when he was on this floor raised his voice for peace, raised his voice on the TimeCode: 11:17:36.5 dispossessed, raised his voice on those who were under attack. barbara lee has been one of the experts in this house on issues TimeCode: 11:17:51.8 relating to africa, issues relating to aids, and on efforts to obtain peace and security in this world, for the citizens of this world. i'm also, madam speaker, very pleased to join my friend, TimeCode: 11:18:08.5 chris smith. i had the privilege of co-chairing the committee with mr. smith for many numbers of years, and serving with him for 15 years before i became the minority whip and took leave TimeCode: 11:18:26.1 from the commission. i want to thank him. not only in a collegial sense does he participate in these matters, but probably as many -- as much as any member in this house of the 435 and the literally probably 2,000 that TimeCode: 11:18:40.8 he and i have served with over the years. he has personally, individually gone to one of the most troubled spots in the world. no publicity, no large delegation, no air force plane. i'm going to speak briefly TimeCode: 11:18:57.1 about the fact that we were able -- but on his own. he and frank wolf, two of our members who have gone to people in trouble and at risk and taken their hand and heard their stories and brought it back and exposed it to the TimeCode: 11:19:13.2 light of day. i thank mr. smith for his leadership over the two decades that he and i have -- more than two decades -- almost a quarter of a century that he and i have served together in this house. this is a serious issue. TimeCode: 11:19:29.8 i want to congratulate jerry moran. jerry moran had not been to many -- barbara lee came over to me as he was speaking and said a he got the message. that's why we travel. TimeCode: 11:19:43.9 sometimes the public thinks that traveling is just a junket. going to darfur is no junket. living in darfur is much worse. when i determined that i was going to take a delegation TimeCode: 11:20:00.0 overseas as my first trip as majority leader of this house, i thought that i wanted to go to someplace where it was important that we tell the world that we thought they ought to be paying attention to. TimeCode: 11:20:13.3 and the world has been paying attention to it. so many people has gone to darfur. 11 of us went to darfur. myself, barbara lee from california, jerry moran from kansas, ileana ros-lehtinen, the ranking republican on the foreign affairs committee, greg meeks from new york, brad TimeCode: 11:20:29.7 miller from north carolina, mr. buttlefield from north carolina, ray lahood from illinois, jim costa from california. a delegation of democrats and rps who when the plane took off TimeCode: 11:20:47.4 from andrews air force base, flew not as democrats or republicans, but flew as americans, flew as americans who were worried about humanitarian distress. madam speaker, i want to thank the gentleman from california TimeCode: 11:21:01.1 -- the gentlewoman from california, congresswoman lee, for her hard work in bringing this important bipartisan resolution to the floor this morning and for her dedicated leadership and focusing attention on the continuing genocide in the darfur region of sudan. jerry moran is correct. TimeCode: 11:21:17.7 all of us know that we talk about never forgetting but never forgetting is not enough. remembering is the first step, but acting is the absolutely essential step. TimeCode: 11:21:36.9 since 2003, more than 400,000 people have been killed in darfur, and an estimated 2 1/2 million people have been displaced. mothers, sisters, brothers, old and feebled, sick. TimeCode: 11:21:54.3 our delegation, as i know you have, mr. smith, mr. ackerman, i know you as well have had the TimeCode: 11:22:01.3 opportunity to visit in the camps, in the medical facilities, talked to the mothers, talked to the children. i talked to grandmother who had been forced away from her home by somebody. was it the government, was it a TimeCode: 11:22:16.6 rebel group, was it simply a band of thieves or criminals? however, her family was displaced and she had nowhere to go except a displaced persons camp. TimeCode: 11:22:32.2 it calls to us in this house, it calls out to everybody in this globe to respond in a positive way to relieve that suffering. the united nations has identified the situation in darfur as the worst current humanitarian and human rights crisis in the world. TimeCode: 11:22:50.6 the united states calls it genocide. simply stated, the international community must not turn a blind eye to the suffering of innocence. as has happened far too often throughout human history. TimeCode: 11:23:06.2 the international community's plan requires real collective action in darfur now. there are people acting now. but they do not have enough help. TimeCode: 11:23:22.7 this time we must prove that we mean it not now, never again. house concurrent resolution 7, which has 115 co-sponsors on both sides of the aisle, and it is my hope that it will get 433. TimeCode: 11:23:39.8 we have two members who are no longer with us. 433 votes. this is an important step in this cause. congresswoman lee's resolution calls on the league of arab states to support and accept the united nations peacekeepers TimeCode: 11:23:57.4 as the best option to enforce a cease-fire, protect civilians and a ensure access for humanitarian workers. to work with the international community to bring about a lasting peace in darfur. in fact, madam speaker, during the recent bipartisan TimeCode: 11:24:14.8 congressional delegation that i have spoken of to sudan which included congresswoman lee and the others, we also went to egypt. egypt is one, of course, of the most important members of the TimeCode: 11:24:30.4 arab league. the largest arab state. important member in the league. i have been told that president mubarak at our request when we met with him followed up on our -- on his pledge to our delegation to reach out to TimeCode: 11:24:48.0 sudanese president bashir who has, unfortunately and tragically, been part of the problem, not the solution. deemed by the international community as someone who has facilitated and, yes, even participated in the humanitarian crisis that TimeCode: 11:25:05.4 exists. we urged his government, and president mubarak says that he has urged bashir to accept and facilitate humanitarian workers TimeCode: 11:25:21.2 work, to make their visas acceptable, to make their travel around the country easier. i also understand that the foreign minister with whom we met is currently in sudan, and it is my hope that he's delivering the same message TimeCode: 11:25:34.2 that we spoke of. now is not the time to offer a full report of our codel. however, i do want to briefly highlight the five specific steps that i believe must be taken in darfur without delay. first, it is imperative that we continue to ensure humanitarian TimeCode: 11:25:52.4 access in darfur. secondly, the international community must insist that the bashir government accept more peacekeeping troops. thirdly, we must initiate a process by which a political solution can be relieved. TimeCode: 11:26:09.0 and we need to engage sudan's neighbors in the peace process, which was what this resolution is designed to do. and fifth, we must work with the sudanese government to help forge a comprehensive plan for stability and reconstruction TimeCode: 11:26:24.3 across the whole of the country . north sudan was mentioned by my friend, bill pascrell, as well as south sudan, which we visited. madam speaker, i, again, want to thank congresswoman lee, congressman ackerman, congressman smith, and all of TimeCode: 11:26:40.3 our colleagues for this effort today. they continue to focus on darfur. i urge all of my colleagues to unanimously support this very important resolution, a call to action, a call to humanitarian TimeCode: 11:26:56.5 relief, and i yield back