tv US House of Representatives Special Orders CSPAN March 14, 2016 7:00pm-9:01pm EDT
the speaker pro tempore: on this vote, the yeas are 3 2, the nays are 3, 2/3 being in the affirmative, the rules are suspended, the concurrent resolution is agreed to and without objection, the motion to reconsider is laid on the table. the speaker pro tempore: the house will be in order. the house will be in order. members, please take your conversations outside of the house floor.
the speaker pro tempore: the house will be in order. please take your conversations off the house floor. he house will be in order. the chair will now entertain requests for one-minute speeches. for what purpose does the gentleman from california seek recognition? >> ask unanimous consent to address the house for one minute. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. he house will be in order. please take your conversations utside of the house.
the gentleman from california is recognized. mr. mccarthy: thank you, mr. speaker. there are times in history we are ashamed of. times when people are faced with great evil and the world looked away. cambodia's communist regime massacred its people. many in the world made excuses. stalin purged russia and he was praised by a journalist. the jewish people of europe were murdered by hitler, but the world was too afraid to see the truth. the scales were only lifted from their eyes when millions were already dead. at the time, people made excuses for the decisions to look away. they said the politics were too dicey. it wouldn't be diplomatic or sometimes they couldn't believe that such evil exists. when we look back, those excuses
don't make sense. they don't matter. the speaker pro tempore: the ouse will be in order. the gentleman may proceed. mr. mccarthy: mr. speaker, when we look back, those excuses don't make sense. they don't matter. what matters is that people were dying and the world didn't notice. evil does exist, but ignoring or refusing to call it by its name doesn't go away. isil is targeting people who share my faith and the faith of many people in this house, people who believe in jesus christ and because of that they are being marked for execution. isil is enslaving ethnic
minorities everywhere they gain power and we know it. we know what they are doing and if we don't say it, we should be ashamed. isil is committing genocide. they are targeting non-muslims, christians, yazidis and more. and we can't ignore what is happening in syria, the assad regime and its allies are killing at a breathtaking scale. torture, rape, chemical weapons, barrel bombs, forced starvation, the syrian regime is targeting syrians. and the world cannot look away. the obama administration can't dance around the question. today, the house stands firmly to proclaim to the world that genocide is happening. that evil is real and that it must be stopped. and we urge the administration
to join us. we must look at evil in the face and confront it, because if we do not wake up, more innocent blood will be shed. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: for what purpose does the gentlewoman from new jersey seek recognition? >> permission to address the house for one minute and revise and extend. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. the gentlewoman is recognized for one minute. mrs. watson coleman: i rise in to join math teachers celebrating international pi day, observed every day on march beginning at 1:59, pi day recognizes the mathematical constant and could insides of the birthday of one of the greatest minds and former
resident of my district, albert einstein. any will indulge in a tasstier piece of pie, the importance of technology, engineering and math, fields that strengthen our nation's security. studies have shown improvement in the united states since 1995. and so as we honor the concept of pi and the legacy of einstein, i ask my colleagues to join me in renewing our commitment to outstanding stem education in our schools and support of stem at the federal level. and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: for what purpose does the gentleman from minnesota seek recognition? mr. paulsen: permission to address the house for one minute. indiana has a basketball, texas has its football, but in minnesota, it doesn't get better
than the annual hockey tournament. wisetta late the hockey team. they fought back from a 3-1 deficit to claim their first ever state hockey title. it is a tremendous event with fans descending on st. paul to fill up the center and the players should be player of their accomplishments on and off the ice. i want to recognize their commitment not to their sport but spending time in the classroom and community to become outstanding student athletes. students, family and fans are proud and offer their congratulations. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from -- for what purpose does the gentleman from california seek recognition? >> address the house for one minute and revise and extend my remarks.
. mr. garamendi: my daughter is a kindergarten teacher and the children are listening to our national debate and listening to the television and coming to class and repeating the bullying they are hearing on the television and take it to the classroom. it is time for civility in our presidential discourse. i yield back. . the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. for what purpose does the gentleman from seek recognition? mr. poe: i seek permission to address the house for one minute and revise and extend my remarks. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. poe: mr. speaker, iran once again has scoffed at the west by breaking its agreements. just this last week, islam's revolutionary guard corps test-fired missiles which were reportedly to hit israel.
under u.n. security council resolution 2231, iran is forbidden on taking any work designed to deliver nuclear weapons. let the iranians do what suits them. the west will do nothing. they break international agreements. under the same agreement. it is prohibited from buying arms for the next five years, but he broke his word again. the u.n. agreement has not stopped iran from negotiating an arms sail with the russians. mr. speaker, the ink is barely dry on so-called deal that the obama administration made with iran. iran is a rogue nation determined to destroy the united states and israel. meanwhile the united states sits by and wrings its hands. iran must be forced and the
citizens of iran must change their government. and it's just the way it is. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. for what purpose does the gentlewoman from florida seek recognition? ms. ros-lehtinen: mr. speaker, ask unanimous consent to address the house for one minute and revise and extend my remarks. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. the gentlewoman from florida is recognized for one minute. ms. ros-lehtinen: thank you, mr. speaker. i rise tonight to congratulate congressman sam johnson and john lewis for being named the first two recipients of the bipartisan policy center's patriot award. it was established to honor two members of congress who have placed the interests and goals of nation above all other concerns. s a former us air force pilot, sam johnson understands what it means to serve one's country. he flew in the korean and the
vietnam wars and spent nearly seven years as a prisoner of war in the that know. i commend sam johnson for his work to support america's men and women until uniform as well as for his efforts on behalf of all veterans. and mr. speaker, i also have much praise to another wonderful colleague, john lewis. john's record for fighting of civil rights and civil liberties dates back to the 1960's when he as named chairman of the nonviolence coordinating committee and seshed served along side dr. king on the march on washington in 1963. and essman sam johnson congressman john lewis and tomorrow night's ceremony will be a greatest ta meant to their life of service. thank you, mr. speaker. the speaker pro tempore: the
gentlewoman yields back. for what purpose does the gentleman from florida seek recognition? >> permission to address the house for one minute. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. >> mr. speaker, i rise today to speak on behalf of our nation veterans who have been targeted by criminals seeking to defraud them. veterans in my district brought to my attention that these individuals are advertising themselves to the veterans' community claiming that for a fee they can speed up their claims with the v.a. everybody knows that the claims process at the v.a. is far too slow, but these people are deliberately seeking out veterans reporting to speed up this process with their claims which they cannot do and then illegally charging them fees and then zreaping. mr. rooney: i introduced a bill with my fellow floridians with ted deutch titled the preventing crimes against veterans act to
penalize these fraud steers who are trying to defraud our veterans. thells people prey on american veterans. it's our duty to ensure that our heroes are protected under every spect of the law and i'm confident this bill can pass the house with bipartisan. thank you and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. for what purpose the gentleman from california seek recognition? . 7:30. 7:30 without objection, the gentleman from california is recognized for
one minute. mr. lamalfa: thank you, mr. speaker. i'm heartened to see our california senator feinstein over the weekend in an article has called also for pumping excess water that flows through the delta above what is needed for the biological opinion for fish numbers. watt that are could have been put aside for anybody to be able to use. so senator feinstein, we're looking forward to working with you on this. and bringing forward sensible water storage with water we already have in these high-flow times. mr. speaker, i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. for what purpose does the gentlewoman from texas seek recognition? without objection, the gentlewoman from texas is recognized for one minute. ms. jackson lee: thank you very much, mr. speaker. i rise with great sadness and overwhelming grief to acknowledge the passing of my beloved staff member, tiffany joslin. i did not want one day to pass as we returned back, to go
without a tribute to her, although i know that i'll return again with more details and more expressions of how talented she was. she died sunday, a week ago, in a very tragic car accident between rhode island and massachusetts. having gone home, to mourn with her family on another passing of a relative. the greater tragedy of all of his is, not only did tiffany lose her life, but her moved brother, only brother, died in the same accident and the brother's wife was injured. so, i come today to acknowledge her light and to say to her mother and her step-mother, her father and step-mother, of the great respect that tiffany has
garnered all throughout the washington community. and beyond. she was a brilliant writer. she served as the deputy chief council on the criminal justice committee for the house judiciary committee. republicans and democrats loved her well. and she had the kind of spirit, generosity and eagerness to get the job done that everyone loved. she had a passion to help the most vulnerable. and those who were caught in the criminal justice system unfairly, but those who deserved restoration and rehabilitation, and together we were on a journey to continue to find a way to reform the criminal justice system. she's made a good progress because two of the bills we worked on have already been passed out of judiciary. i'm praying they come to the floor. i know in her name and all the vulnerable people that boo we -- that would benefit from her great work. to her family, this tragedy is so enormous that words do not
in any way comfort. but only that you will know that your daughter and certainly your late son were lights unto so many. and may god bless them as they rest in peace. for they left a legacy, hers will go on and on and on. i'm ever grateful for the opportunity to work with her, a young woman with a big heart, and maybe even an old soul and a lot to give and a lot of intellect to make a difference in this world. with that, mr. speaker, i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman yields back the balance of her time. under the speaker's announced policy of january 6, 2015, the gentleman from nebraska, mr. fortenberry, is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the majority leader. mr. fortenberry: thank you, mr.
speaker. we're living in a time of great political difficulty. that's not a secret to anyone. just moments ago the house of representatives did something essential. we came together in not a bipartisan fashion, but in a transpartisan fashion, rising above the petty difficulties that we seemingly cannot ever resolve, and spoke to the heart of something that's essential for all of humanity. we declared together what is happening in the middle east, christians andy i ziddies and others -- yazidis and others, to be genocide. i'm extremely proud of the body for speaking clearly, for speaking factually, and for speaking about this grave injustice that is happening to so many ancient faith traditions. this grave injustice which is an assault to human dignity, this grave injustice which is a threat to civilization itself. when one group of persons,
namely isis, can systemically target another group of persons cause of their faith, that destroys the very basis for international order, tran quit among peoples -- tranquilities for peoples among civilization itself. that's why what we did tonight in speaking so clearly and rising above differences in a unanimous fashion is so extraordinary. i owe an extreme debt of gratitude to my colleague, ana everybodyue from -- ana eshoo from california. she's been a stalwart leader in this effort. her own ethnic background is caldean. she has an intimate familiarity with the middle east and the suffering of this group of people. she has led in congress on her side of the aisle and my side of the aisle in partnership with me, to continue to try to confront the scandal of silence
, the indifference toward what is happening to these anjent faith traditions that have -- ancient faith traditions that have every much a right to be in their ancest ral homeland as anyone else. in june of 2014, in the iraqi ity of mosul, there was an eerie silence one morning. for the first time in several millennia, in two millennia, the church bells didn't ring. mosul is one of those diverse cities in the middle east. it had a rich tapestry of vibrancy of various faith traditions. christians, yazidis, muslims. differences of religious perspectives, sometimes tensions, but found a way to continue to contribute toward the well-being of that community. ut they were invaded by eighth century barbarians with 21st century weaponry, isis.
the christians who were there convert or ave, die by the sword. many fled with just what was on their back. the remaining christians in their homes had this painted on their door. this is the arabic symbol for the letter n, it stands for nazz recent, which is a derogtory term used by some in the middle east to describe the christians. this was painted on their door as a sign that it was time for them to go or they would die. except it wasn't painted in nice gold like this. it was painted in red, blood red. now, we can -- we have so many tragedies and difficulties facing humanity. we can sometimes become numb because it's overwhelming. to the violence that's
happening in so many places in the world. when you have one group of people who has extreme disregard for that sacred space of humanity, for that sacred space of conscience and individual rights that are expressed in religious freedom, you not only have a threat to a group of people far away, but you have a threat to the underpinnings of civilization itself. i happen to be in the room -- happened to be in the room when pope francis was given a small christian cross, a crucifix. this cross had belonged to a young syrian man and he had been captured by the jihadists. and he was told, convert or die. so he chose. he chose his ancient faith
tradition. he chose christ. an he was beheaded. his mother somehow was able to recover his body and this cross and ury him and she fled came to austria and through this means this small cross came into the possession of the holy father. this is not an isolated story. it has happened over and over and over again. as persons who were denied their life or denied the very conditions for life and they had to flee. this is called genocide. the international association of genocide scholars, the prestigious academic body, has labeled this genocide. genocide watch has called this genocide. the yazidi international
community has labeled this a yen side. pope francis has said so -- a genocide. pope francis has said so. presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle have said so. and now the how it's of representatives -- house of representatives has declared it o as well. i live in lincoln, nebraska, and i am privileged to represent the largest yazidi community in america. and it's not a community that i've gotten to know just recently because of all of the difficulties that they've had. we've worked with them for many, many years. many of these yazidi families were translators for the united states army during the height of the iraq war. and because of that, this body, by law, we gave them special to live ip options for
here in america. and many settled in lincoln, nebraska. about a year and a half ago, a number of young men in the yazidi community came to see me. they were on the verge of tears . they spoke passionately, even angrily, and i don't blame them for being angry, congressman, do something, our mothers, our sisters, our families, they're trapped in sinjar. and isis is coming for them. we don't have the capacity to stop them. help us. you're the only ones who can. help us. please. do something. there is no more time. the yazidi community also took its case to washington. around the same time, a resolution that was led by my good friend rning, congressman vargas, who will speak momentarily, and passed by us in the house of representatives, which called for international humanitarian assistance in northern iraq for the besieged peoples, laid some of the groundwork way was a very prudential decision and i commend president obama for it. to stopping what was certain to
be a slaughter on mount sinjar, saving the remnant of the yazidi people who were still there. and so today we as a body are calling upon the international community as well as the fullness of our own government to act. to call this genocide. this is one of those yazidi translators. this man right here. his name is omar. again, he gained his citizenship because he was so sacrificialy helpful to us during the height of the iraq war. he's lost 36 family members of the yazidi community to the violence. he recently went back to the and ated areas of sinjar he saw the bombed remains of the ancient christian church here. and took it upon himself, a
yazidi man that does not share the christian tradition, and took it upon himself to put a make shift cross over the sight -- site where the christians previously lived. why is this genocide designation important? it's just, it's just to omar and his family, it's just to the christians who have died or had to flee. it is just to the other peoples who are under severe persecution. and by the way, i should note that the people who have been killed the most by isil are innocent muslims. the genocide declaration, though, declares that there is a systemic attempt to exterminate this ancient faith that digs -- tradition. the christian, yazidis and others. and what it means is we are helping set the preconditions, if you will, for when there is hopefully a real security
settlement in northern iraq and in syria and in other places. that the christians, yazidis and others, are fully integrated back into their ancient homeland and given fullness of rights as citizens, given fullness of protection and process, full integration into their own governing structures. by raising this banner tonight, we have done something good, it's a word and powerful word. in 2004, colin powell came to the senate foreign relations committee and he declared there what was happening in darfur to be a genocide. and in doing so, it helped put an end to that grim reality, but today the house has spoken and i'm proud that we have done so in a transpartisan manner with
you nanity. what i hope this does iselle vate international consciousness, calling upon the responsible communities of the world to seek out ways to stop the violence and stop the persecution to push for the right type of security arrangement that will restore tapestry nce the rich of perspectives and pleffs in the northeast. without that. i have little hope, but with this and the return of persons like omar and others who respect differences, who have true friendships, who are willing to sacrifice for their deep beliefs, these are the no built of values that the traditions
can bring back to their shattered homeland and why it is so important that we acted today. let me turn to my good friend anna eshoo and wants to share her thoughts. ms. eshoo: i thank my friend and the the gentleman from nebraska. i thank you for your words and magnificent remarks on the floor here this evening and we share the same sentiments. i think if anyone is tuned in this evening for what we call a pecial order, the congress has not really held in great regard today. but there is on a day-to-day basis for so many of us, a
discovery of deep friendship that is created, that comes about because we work so closely together on something that binds us, where we have not only common ground, but the deep, deep values of our country that are embedded in us and everyone here, people across the country and we get to work on it together. congressman fortenberry is my brother. and i thank you. i thank you from the bottom of my heart for the values that you have expressed, the work that you have put into this and what it means to the peoples that we are speaking for. this resolution expressing the sense of the congress that the atrocities that are being perpetrated by isis, they constitute war crimes and they religious against
and ethnic minorities in iraq and syria and throughout the region. over the past decade, we have witnessed an acceleration that started when there was the invasion of iraq but it has heightened as the years have gone on and now the assault on christians and other religious minorities, particularly by isis as moved to a level of mr. barrow:ism that we read about in the history books and taking place and taking place in the 21st century. and the torture and murder of thousands, the displacement of millions, including syrians, deans and, turkmen, man
yazidis that mr. fortenberry has spoken about. these are fathers and sons being executed. mothers and daughters being enslaved and raped. he u.s.a. columnist, kirsten powers, painted a vivid picture when she wrote in december of last year, quote, in october, islamic state militants in syria demanded that two christian women convert to islam, when they refused, the women were publicly raped and beheaded. on the same day, they cut off the fingertips of a 12-year-old boy in an attempt for his father to convert.
they were both crucified. today there are 500 christians remaining in iraq down as man as 1.5 million in 2003. now the united nations has written, come up with a definition sometime ago of what genocide actually is, quote, any of the following acts committed with an attempt to destroy in whole or in part a national, ethical, or religious group, as such, killing members of the group, causing bodily or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately inflicting on the group, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part, imposing measures intended to prevent
births and transferring children of a group to another group, unquote. this is genocide and this is what is actually taking place today. despite the persecution of these hundreds of thousands of religious minorities, the united ates has not spoken out, but tonight, the united states house of representatives has. and this is a see himinal moment for the house to have taken this on and express unanimously, unanimously that this is enocide.
humanitarian aid, refugee for these vulnerable communities and an official statement by the congress and tonight that are happened. we have labeled these atrocities for what they are, genocide. i think that congressman fortenberry has stated in a most eloquent way why this is important. first of all, this is one of the great values of our country. one of the great, great values of our country, where we recognize religion of the people of all religious backgrounds. and our constitution, in just a few words, in just a few words, i believe, have prevented
bloodshed where in other places, it takes place. it is deeply meaningful to me as a first generation american, the only member of the entire armenian at is of descent. this is a repeat of history of my family. it is why i'm a first generation american, because my grandparents fled, both sides of for mily, armenian side, this very reason, because they re being hunted down and hunted down because they were christians. the world witnessed what the house and the congress is still silent on this and we have to address that, too, when the people.rounded up
by 1923 there was 1.5 million women, children and men that were lost. it was a campaign that we now know and we call the armenian genocide. so for those in my family that told the story, my grandparents, my parents, this is for me, a bittersweet evening. but i think that they are all proud, those that have been called to god and those that are still with us, that the united states house of representatives is calling this out for what it is. and it matters when the united states speaks. our voices collectively this evening are going to echo around the world and the stability as
congressman fortenberry spoke to, of these minority communities, have really been he glue that have held these communities for too long. i pray for the day that there will be peace in the region and they will be recognized and honored in their communities on the lands these lands with their faiths. that would be -- i think that's the collective hope of all of us. and the stability and i think the cultural identity of the middle east depends on this. the united states has always championed basic human rights and civil and religious liberties both at home and abroad. whenever we go abroad, those are the issues we raise with whom ever we are meeting with.
and i think these are our most cherished values and i think america's greatest export. during this trip to south america in july of 2015, pope francis called for an end to this genocide of christians in the middle east, saying, quote, in this third world war, which we are now experiencing, a form of genocide is taking place and it must end. his voice, i think spoke obviously for the voiceless. , recently wrote in the "wall street journal" the following, it may seem like we in the united states have little ability to change conditions in the middle east and elsewhere, but with that our outlook has led to inaction and great regret
after crimes against humanity have been allowed to unfold without intervention. the united states made a solemn vow in 2005 with the passage of the responsibility to protect. a response to crimes against humanity, with genocide occurring before our very eyes, we must identify the crimes and honor our international commitment under the responsibility to protect. so, mr. speaker, and my colleagues, with the words of pope francis, the bishop, countless advocates across our country and around the world and the 203 bipartisan co-sponsors of this resolution and the voice of the entire house, unanimous vote this evening of this resolution, i'm very proud, i'm
very proud and i'm grateful to be part of this body that has spoken as one on this issue of , ormous import and morality because we, tonight, have let it be known to the world, that this is, in fact, the horror of genocide that is taking place in the middle east. again, it is a moment of great pride to me, certainly to my family and to people not only my own people, but to those across the united states, the religious leaders of all faiths that have spoken out, this tonight on the 2016, will arch 15, live on and historians will record that we indeed did the
right thing. i thank you all and i yield back. mr. fortenberry: i thank the gentlelady for your impactful and important and heartfelt beautiful words of sympathy, compassion and also for your action. and what you said particularly regarding not only respecting the faiths and traditions, but honoring them in their native lands ought to be what we are striving for. so thank you for your beautiful statements. . now i'd like to turn to the congressman from arizona who has been a stalwart leader on all types of assaults to human dignity as they manifest themselves in so many difficult ways across a spectrum of life. i'm thankful forever your friendship and leadership as well. mr. franks: mr. speaker, i thank the gentleman. i thank congressman fortenberry especially for his leadership and courage on this issue.
i thank congresswoman eshoo, not only for her personal courage, but just for the perspective that she brings to this house, given her ancestors and the family history that she has with some of the challenges that are so parallel to what we're talking about tonight. mr. speaker, i believe the united states of america has been the greatest national force for good the world has ever known. our nation has made sacrifices to the extreme, to extinguish some of the world's evils that has plagued humanity across the decades. i'm honored to stand here with my colleagues who have led this fight, to call the islamic state's insidious campaign of terror against christians, yazidis and other religious communities what it is, genocide. for months, noble organizations like the knights of columbus and countless valiant individuals have worked
tirelessly to document evidence of genocide against ancient faith communities in iraq and syria. hundreds of pages containing account of massacres, unimaginable brutality, and uncovered mass graves have been delivered to world leaders, including the obama administration. in an effort to condemn isis violence as the genocide that it most certainly is. recognition of genocide with the passage of h.con.res. 75 is due in large part to the conviction and commitment of these organizations and individuals and for that humanity owes them a great and profound gratitude. and yet today, despite all of the overwhelming evidence this administration remains stunningly silent. mr. speaker, i'm reminded of the words of dietrich bohnhoffer, a german lutheran pastor, an anti-nazi dissident. he said, silence in the fear and face of evil is esill is it -- evil itself.
eye lens in the face of evil is evil itself. god will not hold us guiltyless. not to speak is to speak. not to act is to act. unquote. mr. speaker, we are now witness to some of the most glaring and brutal attacks against the universal human rights of religious freedom in history. isis has been the very face of evil. and we have seen hundreds of thousands of civilians flee the land of their spiritual heritage. we've seen mass executions and beheadings. we've seen the destruction of ancient places of worship and sacred sites. we have seen women and children assaulted and sold as commodities in a world modern day slave market. sometimes little girls for as little as 50 cents. we have seen the islamic state desecrate, violate, humiliate and strip innocent men, women and children of their god-given human dignity. and why? because there is no place for christians, yazidis and other
religious communities in the islamic state's self-proclaimed caliphate. and the message of this cancer is clear. those who do not conform to their ideology will be destroyed. mr. speaker, this administration has been fully aware that christians, yazidis and other religious communities have been subjected to the most extreme kind of brutality and barbaric attacks. the islamic state has publicly declared their intent to annihilate those who do not submit to their caliphate, stating, quote, it will continue to wage war against the apostates until they repent from apostsy. it will continue to wage war against the pagans until they accept islam. unquote. mr. speaker, justice demands that this be condemned as genocide. today the cries of the innocent should compel us to act. refusal to acknowledge and specifically name christians, yazidis and other religious communities in designation of genocide would be one of the more disgraceful chapters in
the obama administration's shameful and abhorrent response to the insidious evil of the islamic state. this conspicuous silence of this administration and its failure to act decisively not only has the gravest implications for thousands of innocent fellow human beings, but it also sends a message to the world that the united states of america, which has long served as an impetus for freedom and justice, has either lost the moral conviction to defend the lives of the independent or the plit -- innocent or the political will to crush the evil that desecrates them. not to speak is to speak, mr. speaker. not to act is to act, mr. speaker. and the world is watching what we will or shamefully will not say or do. mr. speaker, i would adjure the president of the united states and secretary kerry fat to callously continue to stand by silence and let this evil
relentlessly proceed. with that, i thank the gentleman and yield back. mr. fortenberry: i thank my friend, congressman franks from arizona, for his powerful statement. not to speak is to speak. of all people in the body, i think that is a marked tribute to the congressman who has worked tirelessly and spoken out on behalf of the protection of innocent persons. i want to turn to my good friend, congressman vargas, from california, who as well has helped in an extraordinary way to further not only this cause, but, again, trying to elevate the nobility of the ideal that we should all be united in mind and heart and spirit, if we are going to be persons who respect the rules of law, the standards for international order, or more basically our need for one another. i'm so grateful for your willingness to speak out on a whole host of issues. thank you for coming tonight. mr. vargas: thank you very much
, congressman fortenberry, and also anna eshoo, for your courage to come forward and for your words today and for your powerful words that you gave a moment ago. to call genocide what it is. genocide. what we're seeing with christians in particular and yazidis and others. so, again, thank you very much for allowing me to speak today. i'd also like to congratulate both of you on the passage of house resolution 75, which expresses the sense of congress that the atrocities perpetrated by isis against religious and ethnic minorities are indeed genocide, crimes against humanity. i sincerely hope that the obama administration will see the bipartisan show of support for this timely resolution, as an impetus to clearly and forthrightly declare these acts genocide, because that's what they are. so i'm hoping that they take action. around the world, political and religious leaders have spoken out to condemn isis' acts of
turing kidnapping,er to and killing of christians. yazidis, shi'as, turks and other religious minorities. german chancellor angela merkel, european parliament, the kurdistan regional government and his holiness, pope francis, have called these actions by its proper name -- genocide. genocide. i would like to echo the words of pope francis who eloquently stated, quote, our brothers are being persecuted, chased away. they're forced to leave their homes without being able to take anything with them. i assure these families, i am close to them and in constant prayer. i know how much you are suffering. i know that you are being stripped of everything. end of quote. it has almost been two years since the fall of mosul. when isis warned religious minorities living under its jurisdiction to either convert to islam, to pay a cumbersome religious task, or be executed.
and i won't go through all of the atrocious acts that they've committed. i think that they were spoken to of already here in a very dramatic way. they did what they said they were going to do. isis said if you didn't leave, if you didn't convert, you would be executed. that's in fact what they have done in the most horrific way. and we have to act. it's time for us to act. i believe that this mass exodus represents the largest displacement in the middle east since the armenian genocide 100 years ago. the genocide known as crime of crimes. this means that if a genocide is declared, it will demand american leadership and resources to prevent and punish the ongoing assault of
christians, yazidis and other religious minorities that are targeted for extinction. i applaud the various actions and commitments of the obama administration have made to alleviate the suffering of thousands of victims of isis, i strongly and firmly believe we can, we should and we must do more. history what is full of examples of leaders who oppose these mass atrocities. similarly opposed any action in the moment. i call on president obama and secretary kerry to take the first step in firmly calling this egregious situation a genocide. the past time to speak the to to power, and not minutes any words. and we shouldn't mince any words. lastly, i would say this. this has been a bipartisan effort. i did have the opportunity to travel with congress members darrell issa and john mica. we were able to talk to victims there, of this horrific genocide. we were able to talk to the
kurds who were in fact helping dramatically. many of them losing their own lives because they wanted to protect christians and yazidis. we have to do more. and unfortunately we probably won't get much information -- maybe if i went over and punched my good friend, jeff, out of love, of course, brother, maybe we would get some attention on this matter. but we have to shout out and we have to get the attention of the administration. we have to do something. we have to do something. because this is genocide and we just can't sit idly by. with that i yield back. mr. fortenberry: i want to thank my good friend, congressman vargas, for your impactful words. if it does take you coming over here to punch me, come on, let's go, because that's worth it. i want to also reiterate something i mentioned earlier. it was your resolution that called for an international humanitarian intervention, that i feel created the environment, the conditions which was empowering to the obama
administration to intervene on behalf of the yazidis trapped on mount sinjar. and that's an overlooked fact and consideration around here. but i'm glad to say. it i want to thank you for -- say it. i want to thank you for calling as well, urging the administration to act in this regard. you have the moral authority to do so. i know secretary kerry has sthies -- sympathies in this regard. but just like the yazidis when they were trapped on the mountain, to wait in the face of clear facts is to potentially not only lose time, but to lose lives and lose the option for, again, setting the preconditions for reintegration of these ancient faith traditions back into their ancest ral homelands. i thank you for your good words. i want to turn to my good friend, congressman sean duffy from wisconsin, outspoken man of the house, who has not been afraid to confront as well the various problems facing humanity, the assaults on human dignity, as they've manifested
themselves and fractured our society and so many others in so many ways. i thank you, congressman duffy. mr. duffy: i appreciate the gentleman yield gsing and i'm grateful -- yielding and i'm grateful for all of your work, congressman fortenberry, vargas and eshoo. sometimes people think that all we do is fight and disagree, not to talk about you two punching each oath to get a little more press. but it's a remarkable night when we all come together and stand together on such an important issue, such as this. where we all lend our voices to an incredibly important cause. we spent a lot of time tonight talking about the atrocities and i'm going to join in because i think we can't say it enough, all that's happened. two million christians called iraq home prior to 2013. fewer than 300,000 reside there today. many were victims of killing or kidnappings. otherses fored to leave their homes by radicals, al qaeda or isis. in syria, christians accounted for 10% of the population. but today their numbers have
declined to less than one million. last summer, isis kidnapped nearly 300 christians in a syrian village and then later ransomed them back to their families for an average of $100,000 per person. when isis invaded mosul, iraq, in 2014, as mr. fortenberry mentioned, they tagged christian homes with an n for nazarine thefpblet they gave the occupants a choice. you can convert, you can flee, or you would face death. in july of 2014, isis announced that the city no doubt was christian-free. no surprise. in 2014, august, a woman from iraq rounted the night that isis came into her village and then into her home and accused her of putting gold coins in her 11-month-old baby's diaper and so he they took her baby, threw her baby on the couch, beat her baby, threw it up against the wall.
eventually they let her leave but they kept her husband and made him convert. in february of 2015, isis slaughtered 21 coptic christians on a libyan beach, pointing them towards rome and proclaiming this message. quote, signed with blood to the nation of the cross. end quote. in march of 2016, this month, four nuns, members of the missionaries of charity, founded by the late mother teresa of calcutta, were executed by gunmen in yemen. their crime -- they were caring for elderly and the disabled. pope francis called them today's martyrs. and just yesterday gunmen stormed three hotels in the ivory coast, among the 18 people who were killed, a 5-year-old boy, a 5-year-old boy was shot in the head, but eyewitnesses report that the
friend who was with him was spared his life because he was able to recite a muslim prayer. mr. speaker these are hardly isolated incidents. as we talked about tonight, this is genocide. the knights of columbus submitted a 280-page report chronicling the persecution of christians by the islamic state to the state department this week. the leader of isis recently released a video that made very clear their intent to destroy christians through whatever means possible. he said, quote, the coexistence of christians and jews is impossible, according to the koran. so i don't think we have to scratch our heads and ask ourselves what's happening in iraq and syria? pope francis recently condemned the wholesale slaughter of christians by isis, saying entire christian families and villages are being completely exterminated. i look at this house tonight and
i'm proud we have so many men and women willing to stand up and lend their voice to this great cause. we have a reputation in america as being a beacon of light. men and women who stand up for freedom. better known as freedom fighters. freedom of life, freedom of religion. and when there are atrocities in the world, we stand up and lend a voice to those who are being persecuted, those who are down troden. i'm disappointed that the president has been unwilling to join this house and call the atrocities in syria and iraq a genocide. the first step to making sure this ends is that we speak the truth about what's actually happening. and hopefully if the president is watching tonight he'll see that we have both republicans an democrats who agree on this very important issue, and hopefully he'll join us and take that
first step to shedding light on what's happening in iraq and syria. so mr. fortenberry, i commend you for your good efforts on this important issue and i'm proud to stand with you and the rest of this chamber and make sure those who might not know that people care about them as they're going through pain and anguish, we hear about the sex slaves, young little girls who are held captive, little christian and yazidi girls, they know that people hear them, people care about them and people are doing, here in america, all we can to help them out of this crisis system of thank you for your work. i yield back. mr. fortenberry: thank you for your powerful words, congressman duffy. the re-- the report you mentioned is right here, a 280-page report submitted to the state department recently. the cover shows that moment where these coptic christians from egypt who are guilty only of the crime of going to libya to try to work and earn enough
money to sustain their families were captured by isis and then beheaded. this report lays out the facts. it's not the opinion of the house of representatives, it's not my opinion or yours, the fact is that this is a genocide. so i'm grateful not only to the knights of columbus and a new organization called in defense of christians for producing this, but it is a thorough documentation of what has happened that adds further credibility to what we already know and so many people around the world have called it genocide. now i'd like to turn to my good friend, congresswoman black from tennessee, thank you for being here tonight. mrs. black: thank you for bringing us together to talk about this most serious topic, one that goes to our heart and makes us so sad for what is happening to these remarkable people who stand up for their faith.
mr. speaker, just today the associated press reported that president obama would likely miss the march 17 deadline established by congress for this administration to determine whether or not isis has committed genocide. this is unfathomable. how long does it take for this president to call a spade a spade and declare what americans already know to be true? this isn't hard. isis is evil. they have engaged in systematic persecution and mass killing of christians and other religious and ethnic minorities throughout the middle east. the united states has a moral responsibility to lead in the fight against isis, but we can't defeat a threat that we refuse to acknwledge exists. i'm proud to participate in tonight's special order and to
support congressman fortenberry's resolution because we need to go on record and declare the belief of congress that isis has without a doubt committ genocide and must be dea with accordingly. mr. speaker, we in the united states cannot turn a blind eye when our brothers and sisters around the world are murdered, tortured and kidnapped for their faith. it's long pastime to dispense with this hyper political coectness and to call these heinous acts by their true name. these are crimes against humanity. stping the violence starts with acknowledging this truth. i thank congressman fortenberry for his leadership on this much-needed resolution and i yield back the balance of my time. . fortenberry: thank you, congresswoman black, for your leadership not only on th issue but so many others. we often are in very importat
economic debates, debates about finances, debates about roads, not often enough, perhaps, do we go to the core of the reason for which exists a country and its laws, namely to protect human dignity. so i want to thank yofor your leadership in this regar thank you so much. now we'll turn to my good friend congressman rothfus from pennsylvaa for his words and let me again thank you for your leadership, just your consistency and cond knewity -- continuity you apply your principles, it's very uplifting to me. mr. rothfus: i want to thank mr. fortenberry for the dignity you have given this causeand other causes of han digty and call us together again after this house vote today where the house standsin solidarity with the victims of the middle east. i rise to condemn in no uncertain terms the slaughter of middle eastern christians and other religious minorities in iraq, syria, and the region held
by isis. these are crimes against humanity and acts of genocide. everyone should denounce this senseless brutality. the united states and the united nations should officially recognize the mass murder of christians and other religious minorities in the middle east as acts of genocide. we do not hear about this massacre often enough from the media and while many americans may never have met someone from the middle east, we are all part of the same human family. christians in america may be set apart from our brothers and sisters in the middle east geographically but we worship the same god and are connected in our humanity. we owe these suffering men, women, and children the greatest reverence and fwrattude for their fortitude as they endure kill, displacement from their homes, forced migration, sexual exploitation, destruction of their property and endure bodily and mental harm. we must not remain silent as we live in the comfort of a nation where our liberties are
protected by the law and our culture to a much greater degree permit taos peacefully live out our faith. i recall the words from 2001 of pope john paul ii, bishop of rome, and his holiness the supreme patriarch of all armenians as they celebrated the sacrifices of armenian christian whors also brutalized by genocide for their faith. quote, endowd by great faith they chose to accept death when necessary in order to share eternal life. the most valuable treasure one generation could bequeath to the -- was didellity to the fidelity@gospel so the young would be as resolute as their ancestors. they continued, quote, the illing of millions of armenian christians and the subsequent assassination of thousands are
tragedies that still live in the memory of the present day generation. 15 years later, their wrds still wring true -- still ring true, as entire communities of christians and other religious minorities are rah vadged by genocide and religious persecution in the middle east this persecution sat the hands of isis and it is so horrific that as pope francis and patriarch kalil said last month, whole villages and families of our sisters and brothers in christ are being exterminated. it is intolerable to remain silent and turn a blind eye. violence and the failure to accurately identify not some but all the victims of this genocide condemns these people to a future of continued brutality, destruction, ice lace and genocide. all religious minorities in the middle east deserve religious freedom and the ability to live peacefully within their communities as they have done for centuries. we will continue to stand in solidarity with them and denounce the war crimes and
genocide being committed against the law. i want to end with two words, mr. speaker. two words. moral clarity. this is the time, mr. speaker, for moral clarity. today, this house spoke. the whole world now watches. we need the administration to speak. i thank my friend and i yield back. mr. for thenberry: thank you, congressman rothfus, for your powerful words and thank you for reminding us that this is about what it means to be human, to stand in solidarity with people far, far away who we may never know but whose faith and our faith should be intertwined because of our mutual concern not only of one another from the heart but the structures that give rise to essential principles such as real jus liberty. thank you for your good words. now i want to turn to my good friend, barbara comstock, representative of northern virginia, thank you for your tireless efforts as well. behind the scenes you have worked aggressively in this regard while it's been stated
clearly that ana eshoo and i led this, nonetheless your work in compelling members to be involved in this question and raising consciousness has been invaluable. thank you so much. ms. comstock: i thank the gentleman for yielding and i thank him for his important work on this vital issue of religious freedom and how closely you worked with my predecessor, representative frank who continues his work now after his retirement from congress. i rise to recognize the ongoing struggle for human and religious rights in the middle east and call on the administration to make a genocide designation for the war crimes committed by isis against christians and other religious and ethnic groups. we had the resolution that we passed tonight and i thank all of my colleagues for that unanimous vote that really should speak to the entire country, but also to the entire world, to everybody who is
asking where is there going to be help? when are people going to hear our cries of anguish? this resolution had over 200 co-sponsors which i was proud to join the gentleman and so many of my colleagues here tonight and express the sense of congress that those who commit or support atrocities against christians, yazidis, kurds and other religious minorities in the rejond -- region and those who target them are committing war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. isis has beheaded young children, raped young girls, and systematically slaughtered people just because of the religion they practiced. this is 2016. i remember as a young girl when we -- in catholic school when we would study the martyrs and you'd think about the ancient times and how the first christians had to suffer and be martyred like that. then we see four nones, sisters of charity, just trying to help the aged, the infirm, and they
are slaughtered in the name of their faith. we need to have more people hearing about this, focusing on this, at this time when we have so many sideshows that we see the press covering every single day. this is something that they need to be dedicating their time and their resources and to be using this mass media that we have in so many different mediums to get this word out. and understand these atrocities that are going on. i commend "time" magazine for featuring a young yazidi woman, i believe it was last december, e was named nadia, her firsthand account was chilling. 21-year-old girl. and about what she testified, what these monsters had done to her and her family. when she tried to escape and was recaptured she recounted her story by say, and i quote that night he beat me up, this was the -- this was the person keeping her in slavery, forced
me to undress, and put me in a room with six militants, they continued to commit crimes to my body until i became unconscious. she spoke to her niece who had also been kidnapped who witnessed a woman cutting her own wrists, trying to kill herself. they heard store roifs women jumping from bridges and in one house in mosul where nadia was kept, an upstairs room was smeared with evidence of suffering. there was blood and there were finger prints on the walls she said. two women had killed themselves there is so they wouldn't have to suffer anymore. nadia never considered ending her own life but she said she wished the militants would do it for her. i did not want to kill myself, of course her faith would not allow that, but i wanted them to kill me so she would end that suffering. now she's out there telling he the -- telling the world about this and we need to listen. the european parliament, the u.s. commission on international religious freedom, the u.n.
highs -- high commissioners for human rights and the iraqi and kurdish governments have labeled these actions as genocide. now we in the house are on record also. . they're percent cuthing so many -- persecuting so many. and they also have killed thousands upon thousands of muslims. who refuse to pleng allegiance to their extremist views of these tormenters. last week, the knights of columbus and the organization in defense of christian released a detailed 278-page report as mr. fortenberry, my colleague, has outlined. if we haven't put it in the record already, i'd like to include that executive summary, mr. speaker, if we do could do that in which the actions that constitute general sight are detailed in this executive report and i certainly would commends, like the gentleman did, that people look at this detailed report and i would ask that the press cover this.
i ask unanimous consent to enter the executive summary from this report for the record. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mrs. comstock: mr. speaker, the law does state that the president shall consider what actions can be taken to ensure that those who are responsible for genocide are brought to account for such crimes in an appropriate constituted tribunal. further, president is required to develop a clear strategy to stop these organizations based on the most recent iteration of the national defense authorization act that was passed in november. as i mentioned earlier, since his retirement from congress, my predecessor, congressman wolf, has worked tirelessly on these issues. so i'm so pleased and i know he'll be so pleased to see so many of his former colleagues and all of us who were able to pass this unanimously this evening. i thank him for his strong voice and all the voices that were here tonight and we can once again be standing
throughout this country and throughout the world as that beacon of light, as so many of my colleagues had talked about. so i thank the gentleman for having this special order today and i just close in asking for prayer for all of those who are suffering around the world and for all of those souls who have been tormented, tortured and killed. and i yield back the balance of my time. thank you very much. mr. fortenberry: thank you so much, congresswoman comstock, for your powerful words. your faithful leadership. you had big shoes to fill. with the retirement of frank wolf and i'm sure tonight if he's watching, he would be very proud of your efforts in this regard and so many others. leading the fight to try to stop the assault on human dignity. thanks so much for your time. we appreciate it. mr. speaker, when i was a much younger man, i entered sinai desert in egypt. the year was 1979, i was a college student.
and in the sight of the fighting -- site of the fighting that had taken place between egypt and israel, in the 1973 war, there was an all too familiar scene of a concrete pile of rubble, scrawled on the side of the concrete pile, both in arabic and english, were the words, here was the war, here is the peace. maybe just maybe, mr. speaker, one day on this, the remnants of this christian church, where this cross was planted by this yazidi man, who returned to his hometown of sinjar, just recently, in january, maybe one day we'll see those same words. here was the war, but now here is the peace. mr. speaker, as a matter of business, i ask unanimous consent that all members may have five legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on senate bill 2426. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. fortenberry: with that i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time.
african-american community. mr. speaker, we are here to discuss the current state of voting rights in america, which unfortunately is under assault. the freedom to vote is one of america's most fundamental, constitutionally guaranteed right. it was 51 years ago this month, mr. speaker, over 600 peaceful, orderly protesters set off to march to selma, alabama. to the state capital in -- capitol in montgomery, to demonstrate the need for votes rights in the state. last week our congressional black caucus chair, chairman butterfield, stated, at the first of a series of c.b.c. hearings, he stated that the current state of voting rights in america, and that the voting rights act of 1965 is probably
one of the most significant pieces of legislation ever passed in the united states congress. certainly, mr. speaker, as we know, in 2013, the u.s. supreme court struck down this crucial provision of the voting rights act in shelby county vs. holder decision. mr. speaker, our work continues. because by invalidating section 4 of the voting rights act, the supreme court opened the door for ways to reduce the voting power of minority communities and put in place a new voting restriction in an effort to make it harder for millions of americans to vote. our democracy has far too many missing voices, particularly those who are already at a disadvantage due to deep-rooted
racial and class barriers in our society. by exercising our right, we can do great things, we can hold this country accountable. we can advocate for legislation that supports social and economic progress, equality and fairness for all americans. we can champion policies that create and sustain jobs, and protects against cuts to social and economic programs that are vital, viable to our most at risk population. we can move forward on efforts to address the school to prison pipeline and criminal justice reform. we know that the inequalities in an secretary -- in access to quality health care still exists between races. and more and more black children are victims of falling
schools. i am calling on all citizens, mr. speaker, including our community and national leaders, to join the congressional black caucus to work to eliminate voter suppression and to restore what so many people fought for, marched and died for. yes, the voting rights act. mr. speaker, it's up to all of us to protect the most at risk among us and to expand opportunity for all people. and that begins with passing a voting rights act. our work still continues, mr. speaker. this week we're celebrating women's history month. and i must note the powerful impact of african-american women and what they are having at the polls. in the past two presidential elections, black women led all
demographic groups in voter turnout. that's why voting matters to african-american communities. black women make up the most dynamic segment of the rising american voters. mr. speaker, a great civil rights leader said, women are among the greatest leaders of social reform. and they are fighting, literally fighting, for their political rights. this past saturday i had the opportunity to be with the mothers of the movement. we know who they are. they are the mothers of trayvon rtin, eric garner, dante hamilton, jordan davis, sandra bland, and hadida pendleton. we've all heard what happened to their children. as a member of the congressional black caucus, we
are calling for action on gun control. we need to do more, mr. speaker, than just stand up on this floor for a moment of silence. we need to make sure that we are passing gun control legislation, commonsense legislation, that keeps the guns out of the hands of the most dangerous individuals. it is time for us to protect our children. mr. speaker, i'm going to give you some examples of what we should include in our call for action. i go first to my good friend and colleague and classmate, who brought it to my attention that we stand up for a moment and then we sit down. and then we come back to this floor and we have business as
usual. we talk about, we want to keep our families safe, we talk about the mental health issues. and that's all we do, mr. speaker. we talk about it. congresswoman robin kelly of illinois' second district, she has legislation h.r. 224, which would require the surgeon general of public health services to submit to congress an annual report on the affects of gun violence on public health. this bill has 140 democrat co-sponsors. i'm asking my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to step up and to do more than just standing up for 30 seconds. i'm calling on congress to act on congressman james clyburn of south carolina's sixth istrict, his legislation, h.r.
3051, the background check completion act. which would guarantee that no gun is sold by a licensed dealer until a background check is completed. mr. speaker, i'm very proud to say that i am a co-sponsor of both of these bills. mr. speaker, i could go on and tell but chairman butterfield, the chair of our congressional black caucus. he understands that our work continues. because he has focused his efforts on promoting anti-poverty programs and expanding economic development and job creation. there are a number of things that have happened in his state. for example, the moral mondays are a protest in north carolina that's led by religious progressives. these protests are in response to several actions by the
government of north carolina, which was elected into office in 2013. these events, which spread throughout the south, helped bring attention to voting rights, criminal justice reform and workers rights. i think it's very important for us to note that. mr. speaker, as we come today, you're going to hear my co-anchor and i talk about a number of issues that explains why our work continues. we're going to talk about why in african-american communities , that it is important for us to understand if we don't diversify those ro w.h.o. are going to vote -- those who are going to vote, we don't represent the diversity of this great america that we are here to protect and to serve. but it's not just members of the congressional black caucus
who value and understand the importance of us coming together, the importance of us celebrating our rich history, all tied to the voting rights act, all tied to the movements that we have had of the past. let me give you a great example. because i am so proud that i am going to have the privilege to yield time to my good friend congressman john larson from the first district of connecticut. he is here, mr. speaker, tonight, to join with us as we talk about our rich history. he's going to share with us information about the 51st anniversary of president johnson's we shall overcome speech, which was given on march
15, 1955. i yield the gentleman as much time as he needs. mr. larson: i thank the gentlelady and -- from ohio and the gentleman from new york for this opportunity to join with them this evening. d i am especially proud to associate myself with the gentlelady's remarks and all that the congressional black as i would tood for generally acknowledge that most americans stand for as well. i thank them as well for pointing out a historic event that's happening and in fact will happen tomorrow evening at
the library of congress. tomorrow is march 15 and as the gentlelady mentioned, it was 51 years ago that the president lyndon baines johnson gave his now-famous we shall overcome speech. it was president johnson that recognized eight days after bloody sunday what the nation needed to do. he did this at great political risk, but he did it because of the sacrifice that so many had made. tomorrow evening at the library congress, we will celebrate two american heroes.
with the idea that it's far more important to come together as a nation and understand that these issues that we face and struggle with aren't democrat or republican, but at their very core, are american. i want to commend the bipartisan policy center for establishing what will be the first con -- s withal patriot award congressional patriot award and will be presented tomorrow evening to john lewis from georgia and sam johnson from texas. this honor will be perpetuated will it be a ly medal in recognition of their patriotic service to the country, but their service here
in the united states congress. one person nearly beaten to death by the alabama police. to other neither beaten death by the vee et congress and imprisoned for eight years -- by he vietcong and imprisoned for -- and some 402 months in solitary confinement. both of these gentlemen serve in the united states congress. in of them had to overcome their lives incredible obstacles. both of them, after their
and beyond n 1965 came back to serve their country , to continue to organize, to continue in the case of -- to continue, in the case of sam johnson, to be a flight commander. john lewis, as we all know, is the conscience of the house of representatives. sam johnson is the most admired republican on the floor. they are both iconic and american heroes. and tomorrow evening at the library of congress they will be recognized. the bipartisan policy center has been helped by both the library of congress, the fortress of knowledge, an institution started by the united states
congress, and houses our great history and tomorrow on display will be the documents of the civil rights movement and the direct participation of john lewis and the documents about the vietnam war and the cap tyity and imprisonment -- captivity and imprisonment of sam johnson. and speaking tomorrow evening on behalf of sam johnson will be john mccain. who better to speak ability -- who better to speak about being imprisoned in the hanoi hilton, who better to speak about the sacrifice that sam johnson made, that his family made, for people first? their country
and we'll be honored tomorrow to have a former member of this ody and an ambassador of the united states, and the mayor of being , and andrew young here tomorrow evening. who better to talk about all the from that the gentlelady ohio and the gentleman from new york are bringing to the forefront today than the person martin luther by king's side a colleague of john lewis, john lewis holds the seat that andrew young occupied in this body. andrew young continues to be an
advocate for voting rights and is in the forefront of that continued and epic battle that goes on in this country. it will be an outstanding evening. but the point of it all the point of it all, is to understand that as members here in the united states congress, in the house of representatives, at we must come together and as president johnson said 51 years ago tomorrow evening, to overcome, to overcome not only racial prejudice but to overcome disease and poverty and ignorance which is the real plague on this nation that keeps us confined.
how fitting that this event takes place tomorrow evening. that because of the benevolence of an outstanding person like david rubin steyn and who better -- david rubenstein, and who better to interview john lewis and sam johnson about their experience than david rubinstein. i thank my leagues from the bottom of my heart for allowing me the opportunity here to echo both the sentiments of their purpose here and to acknowledge this event taking place tomorrow evening at the library of congress. distinguished americans, their history forever perpetuated and as webster says above us in the great quote here, let us all, when our time here and our service to the country, do
something worthy of being remembered. let us take to heart the example of john lewis and sam johnson and note especially tomorrow that we shall overcome. thank you. mrs. beatty: thank you to my colleague, congressman john larson. you know, as i was listening to you reflect on the wonderful programs that we're all going to be able to participate in at the library of congress, as i listened to your words, 51 years , president of go these united states could recognize what the nation needed. it disappoints me as i stand here on this house floor and i think about voting rights and i think about the condition of
this nation today and where we are when we talk about casting our votes and who we're going to cast our votes for. i say thank you for congressman john lewis and congressman sam johnson. ifs of -- as i was listening to you, i thought about so many of the things that congressman john lewis has said to us, not only on this floor, not only in private moments, but in our congressional black caucus meetings. he represents that sense of history, of why we come to continue our work. why we come to continue to stand up for the voting rights. because he has said to us on numerous occasions, mr. speaker, that the vote is the most powerful, the most powerful and
most nonviolence tool that we have in a democratic society. we must not allow the power of the vote to be neutralized. we must never go back. so thank you, congressman larson, for taking us forward. a taking us on march 15 on journey that we will remember for a lifetime. because you see, we stand on the shoulders of those individuals who came before us. and now our voters stand on our shoulders. our voters, mr. speaker, are wanting us, they are thirsty for us to stand up for them so that their vote counts. at this time, mr. speaker, i would like to ask my co-anchor
share some thoughts with us on why our work continues. y it's so important in the african american community for us to stand up for not only african-americans but for our citizens who are discriminated against, those who, when we talk about social and economic programs, we see the disparity in what happens to them in education and health care and housing, the juvenile justice system, the criminal justice system. i could not think of any better co-anchor or colleague someone who is such a great orator, someone, when we stands up, we listen. please, congressman hakim jeff reese, share with us some of --
jeffries, share with us some of your thoughts. mr. jeffries: let me thank my good friend, representative beatty, from the great state of ohio for your leadership, for moving us forward throughout the past several weeks as it relates to the congressional black caucus' special order hour of power, 60 minutes where we have the opportunity to speak directly to the american people about issues of importance to our country, to our economy, to the integrity of our democracy as we are doing tonight and it's an honor to share with you today. i also want to acknowledge and thank my colleague, our colleague, john larson from the great state of connecticut for his continuing leadership and for taking to the house floor today to highlight both the historic significance of the
speech that president johnson gave from this very chamber 51 1965, o on march 15, about voting in america and ensuring that every single person regardless of their race or their color or their background had an opportunity to exercise the franchise and to point out to the american people that the congress will pause tomorrow to honor two true american legends, representative lewis and representative johnson, who have served the american people before they arrived in the people's house and through theirer is vess here in the house of representatives and so it is with great humility that i stand today to address a topic that i think is of particular significance at this moment in time that we face in america. in terms of the turmoil that
many may be feeling watching -- feel, watching, undergoing. the economic changes that have been experienced over the last few decades. we know that the middle class in many ways has been left behind, wages have remained stagnant, not withstanding the increased productivity of the american people over the last 40-plus years. . when the economy collapsed, many high-income earners were able to rebound in no small part as a result of the bailout that occurred. and there are a lot of americans who are still hoping, looking out for their opportunity to be brought back into the economic mainstream by the people they've sent to the congress to represent. notwithstanding all of the challenges that we have to confront, whether that's our broken criminal justice system,
the economy that has still not completely recovered, we've made substantial progress under the leadership of barack obama. but of course there's more that needs to be done and we could welcome some cooperation from folks on the other side of the aisle. because all of our constituents were hit hard in 2008. yet president obama has largely been left to his own devices. notwithstanding all of these issues, central to how our government works is the fact that it is designed to be a government of the people, by the people and for the people. abraham lincoln, of course, amously uttered those words in his gettysburg address. if we're going to have that type of government, then everybody needs the opportunity to be able to participate in
choosing their representatives in government without obstacle or obstruction. we understand this is a great country. but it's also a country that has had a stain on its history as it relates to denying some the opportunity to participate fully in american democracy. that's the reason, after all, that in the aftermath of the civil war, that threatened to ear this country apart, we had a reconstruction amendment related to slavery and then a reconstruction amendment related to the equal protection under the law and due process. lastly, with the 15th amendment, designed to make sure that in the constitution,
racial discrimination as it relates to the exercise of the franchise would be prohibited. but unfortunately, notwithstanding the 15th amendment being ratified and put into our constitution, more an 100 years would pass by until this country really confronted the denial of the right to vote in a meaningful way. particularly in the deep south. and it happened because of the efforts and sacrifice of a great many people. dr. martin luther king, john lewis, andrew young, southern christian leadership conference, the student nonviolent coordinating committee, the naacp, and those foot soldiers who were on the edmond pettis bridge on march
7, 1965, and almost lost their life. when they were attacked without provocation by alabama state troopers as they endeavored to cross that bridge on the way from selma to montgomery. that of course then prompted president johnson to deliver that address where he so famously uttered the words, upon his conclusion, that we hall overcome. in the 1965 voting rights act, continues to be the most significant piece of civil rights legislation ever passed by this congress. but unfortunately we know that it is currently under attack. it's under attack because the supreme court effectively, in the shelby vs. holder case,
viscerated its impact by striking down section 4, so-called coverage clause, which effectively eliminated the department of justice's ability to require states with a history of voting rights discrimination to have to preclear any changes that it makes. now, what i've been struggling to figure out during my brief time here in the congress is why voting rights has become uch a controversial thing. when, seems to me that it's so central to the integrity of our democracy. and for decades, in the aftermath of the passage of the voting rights act, it was
actually pretty bipartisan. this notion that in order for our democracy to work, there should be no artificial obstacles erected to prevent people, african-americans, latinos, immigrant families and others, from being able to participate in what basically makes america great, what makes us unique. the ability to elect our representatives and for there to be peaceful transitions of power regardless of ideology, regardless of your region, regardless of what state a president may come from, in order to keep the republic going. so when you look at the history of the voting rights act, as i indicated, it's largely been, until recently, a bipartisan endeavor.
in fact, every time the voting rights act was re-authorized, and it's happened four times, not only did it pass with bipartisan majorities in the congress, but it was signed into law each and every time by republican president. 1970, richard nixon signed into law the re-authorization of the voting rights act. in 1975, gerald ford signed into law the re-authorization of the voting rights act. in 1982, president ronald reagan signed into law the re-authorization of the voting rights act. and then in 2006 president george w. bush signed into law the re-authorization of the
voting rights ac. this significant piece of -- act. this significant piece of civil rights legislation enacted into law, and then re-enacted on every single occasion with the signature of a republican president. indicating that voting participation in the franchise, having the american people in their full, gorgeous mosaic, elect their representatives, is an american thing. but all of a sudden, it's become controversial. now, i don't know if the timing of the election of our current president has anything to do with that. historians will make that analysis as they move forward. it's above my pay grade.
but i just find it interesting that this notion of voter fraud , which was always a fiction put forth by the defenders of the race-based southern hierarchy to deny african-american the right to vote, and was not an issue when richard nixon was elected, wasn't an issue when reagan was elected, wasn't an issue when george herbert walker bush was elected, it wasn't an issue when george w. bush was elected, notwithstanding the fact that i'm still not convinced he won the state of florida. t all of a sudden in the aftermath of the election of president barack obama, apparently there's been an
outbreak of this fever that we've got to deal with so-called voter fraud. no evidence of the fraud. not a scintilla of evidence has been produced by a single proponent of this argument. when people were elected in 2010, in the immediate aftermath of that election, during president barack obama's first term, more than 180 different pieces of legislation in 41 states were introduced, all in the opinion of the many objective observers designed to suppress the right to vote. and at the same time this challenge was working its way through the supreme court.
from, of all groups of people, shelby, alabama. now, the irony of that, john lewis almost lost his life, representative larson indicated, on the edmond pedestrians i -- pettis bridge, down in selma, alabama, and yet it's the supreme court in a 5-4 decision in a case brought by the folks from shelby county, apparently thinking that they were victims because of the oppressive nature of the preclearance provision. and the supreme court, at least for the time being, bought that argument. so we find ourselves now in a situation here in the congress where the court has said to us, fix it. update the coverage formula.
and so bipartisan legislation has been introduced, championed by folks like jim sensenbrenner, the author of the 2016 -- 2006 re-authorization, and a very distinguished and represented -- respected former republican chairman of the house judiciary committee. and of course john conyers and john lewis and many others, joyce beatty on the democratic side of the aisle. we can't get a single hearing before the judiciary committee on something seemingly so fundamental to the integrity of our democracy. 're not asking you to turn into progressive democrats. just act like richard nixon. gerald ford. ronald reagan. with u hold up as someone
the classic embodiment of conservative politics. act like ronald reagan did in 1982. or george w. bush. et's fix the voting rights act in advance of the american people having to determine what comes next as it relates to both this congress and the presidency. not because it's a good thing for republicans or because it's a good thing for democrats, the a good thing for the country -- the a good thing for the country -- it's a good thing for the country. full and robust participation. i would just add, as i close, that it seems to me that this would be a particularly significant time to deal with the voting rights act and
making sure that everybody can participate fully in our democracy, at a moment when many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, in the senate, have said, we want the american people to decide who fills the supreme court vacancy . now, i'm a little skeptical about that, but let's assume that that's really your view of the world. if you don't want to do your job once the president send up the person and give the opportunity to be heard before the senate and the american people because you claim you want the american people to decide who that nominee is through the