WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today after the House considered the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act (S. 2271):
“Today the House is considering one of the most important human rights measures we have dealt with all year --- a bill related to the world’s worst ongoing humanitarian disaster, the genocide in Darfur, Sudan. This measure is about changing direction, showing the world that the United States will not stand idly by – as the international community shamefully did in Rwanda in 1994. This measure is inspired by Apartheid-era legislation, which helped bring about the end of one of the most cruel, racist, violent regimes in modern history.
“Next year marks the fifth anniversary of the genocide in Darfur. That is five years of raping and pillaging, of displacement of millions of innocent men, women and children. Today, the question that we must ask ourselves as Americans, and as human beings, is this: Will we respond with apathy or with action to stop this ongoing tragedy? I submit that there can be only one answer: We – and by “we” I mean the international community – cannot and must not turn a blind eye to the Darfurians’ suffering and plight.
“Today’s measure – the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act of 2007 – is a call to action. It authorizes states, local governments and universities to divest from companies doing business in the military, power production, oil-related, or mineral extraction industries in partnership with the government of Sudan. Further, it provides safe harbor to mutual funds and pension plans choosing to divest their assets in such companies. And finally, it prohibits the federal government from entering into new federal contracts with these offending companies. No longer will Americans have to worry that their tax dollars are going to companies that support the inhumane regime in Khartoum.
“The bill we will pass today and send to the President is just one piece of a multi-faceted effort to address the crisis in Darfur. This solution must include not only full and speedy implementation of the United Nations/African Union hybrid peacekeeping force, but also international support for a single, unified peacemaking process. I have been extremely disappointed in both the rebel leaders and government officials who continue to choose violence over peace and have declined to participate in peace talks. However, we must continue to push for progress toward a ceasefire and a viable political solution for this ravaged land. Finally, and equally importantly, a solution in Darfur must include a sustained and secure role for the courageous humanitarian workers, who risk their lives daily because they are so committed to alleviating the suffering of their fellow human beings.
“I want to express my sincere gratitude to Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who has been a leader in this Congress on the issue of Darfur, who traveled with me to Darfur in April, and who sponsored the original Darfur Divestment measure, H.R.180 – which I was so pleased to cosponsor and which passed the House 418 to 1. This important measure deserves the support of every Member today.”