U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was able to get his “Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act” through the U.S. Senate without opposition this week.
When he brought the bill back at the start of the year, Rubio’s office offered some of the details of the proposal which has U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oreg., as the main cosponsor.
“This bipartisan bill will ensure that goods made with Uyghur forced labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) do not enter the United States. Earlier this year, the State Department issued a determination that the Chinese Communist Party is committing crimes against humanity and genocide against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang,” Rubio’s office noted.
“As the Chinese Communist Party is committing egregious human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities, including genocide and crimes against humanity, there is no excuse to turn a blind eye. We must instead do everything in our power to stop them.” Rubio said. “This bill is an important step in that direction. My bipartisan Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act would ensure that the CCP is not profiting from its abuses by stopping products made with Uyghur forced labor from entering our supply chains.”
“For years, the Chinese government has been committing genocide in Xinjiang, subjecting Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities to torture, imprisonment, forced labor, and pressure to abandon their religious and cultural practices,” said Merkley, who, like Rubio, sits on both the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and on the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC). “The fact that some of the products they’ve been forced to produce are ending up on American shelves is disturbing and unacceptable. We must ban the importation of these goods to ensure that we are not complicit in the genocide, and fully commit ourselves to holding the perpetrators accountable for these atrocities.”
Rubio rounded up more than 50 cosponsors including U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., and guided the bill through the chamber on a voice vote.
“The message to Beijing and any international company that profits from forced labor in Xinjiang is clear: no more,” Rubio said. “We will not turn a blind eye to the CCP’s ongoing crimes against humanity, and we will not allow corporations a free pass to profit from those horrific abuses. Once this bill passes the House and is signed by the President, the United States will have more tools to prevent products made with forced labor from entering our nation’s supply chains. We cannot afford any further delay, and I call on my colleagues in the House to promptly send this bill to the President.”
“Today the Senate is sending a clear message that the United States will not be complicit in the Chinese government’s genocide of Uyghur Muslims,” Merkley said. “Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang are being forced into labor, tortured, imprisoned, forcibly sterilized, and pressured to abandon their religious and cultural practices by the Chinese government. No American corporation should profit from these abuses. No American consumers should be inadvertently purchasing products from slave labor.”
The bill now heads to the U.S. House where it has excellent prospects.
Last year, Rubio and U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., teamed up on the bill which cleared the U.S. House on a 406-3 vote in September. However, Rubio’s bill stalled before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.
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