In the News

News Update

August 20, 2015

By Kay Jacobson, News and Legislative Associate

 

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Violence between the Luba and Batwa groups of this African nation has led to the killing of hundreds of people over the past two years. Violence erupted in 2013 when the Batwa community began demanding basic rights such as “access to land and freedom from forced labor.” Recently, 34 individuals were charged with crimes of genocide as well as murder and rape.

Bangladesh: A war crimes tribunal handling cases of the 1971 Independence War has convicted two men for “collaborating with Pakistan to commit mass killings…” which led to the death of 700 civilians. One man was sentenced to life in prison and the other received the death penalty. The same tribunal has already sentenced 17 perpetrators of mass violence to death or life in prison.

Chile: The former head of a spy agency under Pinochet’s military dictatorship has died. Gen. Manuel Contreras was serving a 500-year sentence for crimes against humanity when he died at the age of 86 in a military hospital. Some Chileans celebrated the death of Contreras, one of Pinochet’s “closest confidants,” who, together with Pinochet, orchestrated the imprisonment, torture, and death of over 40,000 “suspected leftists” from 1973-1990.

Syria: The United Nations Security Council has created a “Joint Investigative Mechanism” to identify those responsible for chemical attacks against civilians in Syria. This investigative step is being described as the missing link to accountability and prevention and will send “a clear and powerful message” to those who foment violence through the use of chemical weapons.

Greece: Refugees and migrants have been fleeing conflict zones of Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq and making their way to Greece and other European nations; the 750% increase in refugees arriving in Greece since July 2014 has been described as a humanitarian emergency. This influx of thousands seeking refuge from human rights violations in their nation states is being met with insufficient infrastructure and services to receive the refugees. The United Nations has urged Greece and Europe to create formal bodies to receive those arriving by sea.

 

Legislative Update

 

International Peace and Security:

S.1933 : Electrify Africa Act of 2015: A bill to establish a comprehensive United States Government policy to encourage the efforts of countries in sub-Saharan Africa to develop an appropriate mix of power solutions, including renewable energy, for more broadly distributed electricity access in order to support poverty reduction, promote development outcomes, and drive economic growth, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen Corker, Bob [TN] (introduced 8/4/2015)

Cosponsors:

 

Sen Alexander, Lamar [TN] – 8/4/2015
Sen Boozman, John [AR] – 8/4/2015
Sen Cardin, Benjamin L. [MD] – 8/4/2015
Sen Collins, Susan M. [ME] – 8/4/2015
Sen Coons, Christopher A. [DE] – 8/4/2015
Sen Durbin, Richard [IL] – 8/4/2015
Sen Gardner, Cory [CO] – 8/4/2015
Sen Graham, Lindsey [SC] – 8/4/2015
Sen Isakson, Johnny [GA] – 8/4/2015
Sen Kirk, Mark Steven [IL] – 8/4/2015
Sen Markey, Edward J. [MA] – 8/4/2015
Sen Menendez, Robert [NJ] – 8/4/2015
Sen Murphy, Christopher S. [CT] – 8/4/2015
Sen Murray, Patty [WA] – 8/4/2015
Sen Schumer, Charles E. [NY] – 8/4/2015
Sen Shaheen, Jeanne [NH] – 8/4/2015

 

Committees: Senate Foreign Relations
Latest Major Action: 8/4/2015 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

 

Discrimination:

S.1965 : A bill to place restrictions on the use of solitary confinement for juveniles in Federal custody.
Sponsor: Sen Booker, Cory A. [NJ] (introduced 8/5/2015)

Cosponsors: Sen Durbin, Richard [IL] – 8/5/2015
Sen Lee, Mike [UT] – 8/5/2015
Sen Paul, Rand [KY] – 8/5/2015
Committees: Senate Judiciary
Latest Major Action: 8/5/2015 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

 

S.2001 : A bill to phase out special wage certificates under section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 that allow individuals with disabilities to be paid at subminimum wage rates.
Sponsor: Sen Ayotte, Kelly [NH] (introduced 8/5/2015)
Committees: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Latest Major Action: 8/5/2015 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

 

S.1928 : A bill to support the education of Indian children.
Sponsor: Sen Tester, Jon [MT] (introduced 8/4/2015)

Cosponsors: Sen Franken, Al [MN] – 8/4/2015
Sen Heinrich, Martin [NM] – 8/4/2015
Committees: Senate Indian Affairs
Latest Major Action: 8/4/2015 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs.

 

S.1931 : A bill to reaffirm that certain land has been taken into trust for the benefit of certain Indian tribes.
Sponsor: Sen Moran, Jerry [KS] (introduced 8/4/2015)

Cosponsors: Sen Tester, Jon [MT] – 8/4/2015
Committees: Senate Indian Affairs
Latest Major Action: 8/4/2015 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs.

 

S.1955 : A bill to amend the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act to provide for equitable allotment of land to Alaska Native veterans.
Sponsor: Sen Sullivan, Dan [AK] (introduced 8/5/2015)
Committees: Senate Energy and Natural Resources
Latest Major Action: 8/5/2015 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

 

S.1980 : A bill to posthumously award a Congressional gold medal to Alice Paul, in recognition of her role in the women’s suffrage movement and in advancing equal rights for women.
Sponsor: Sen Menendez, Robert [NJ] (introduced 8/5/2015)

Cosponsors:

 

Sen Booker, Cory A. [NJ] – 8/5/2015
Sen Boxer, Barbara [CA] – 8/5/2015
Sen Feinstein, Dianne [CA] – 8/5/2015
Sen Franken, Al [MN] – 8/5/2015
Sen Gillibrand, Kirsten E. [NY] – 8/5/2015
Sen Klobuchar, Amy [MN] – 8/5/2015
Sen Mikulski, Barbara A. [MD] – 8/5/2015

 

Committees: Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
Latest Major Action: 8/5/2015 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

 

Democratic Governance:

S.1950 : A bill to amend the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 to provide for online voter registration and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen Schumer, Charles E. [NY] (introduced 8/5/2015)
Committees: Senate Rules and Administration
Latest Major Action: 8/5/2015 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Rules and Administration.

 

S.1951 : A bill to amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to require the availability of early voting or no-excuse absentee voting.
Sponsor: Sen Schumer, Charles E. [NY] (introduced 8/5/2015)
Committees: Senate Rules and Administration
Latest Major Action: 8/5/2015 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Rules and Administration.

 

S.1952 : A bill to amend the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 to modify the procedures for change of address.
Sponsor: Sen Schumer, Charles E. [NY] (introduced 8/5/2015)
Committees: Senate Rules and Administration
Latest Major Action: 8/5/2015 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Rules and Administration.

 

Human Trafficking:

S.1968 : A bill to amend the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to require certain companies to disclose information describing any measures the company has taken to identify and address conditions of forced labor, slavery, human trafficking, and the worst forms of child labor within the company’s supply chains.
Sponsor: Sen Blumenthal, Richard [CT] (introduced 8/5/2015)

Cosponsors: Sen Markey, Edward J. [MA] – 8/5/2015
Committees: Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
Latest Major Action: 8/5/2015 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs