Senate Passes Marco Rubio’s Bill to Reauthorize the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

This week, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., got his proposal to reauthorize the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) through a key committee.

Rubio brought out the bill to continue the USCIRF through 2024 back in March. U.S. Sens. Chris Coons, D-Del., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., James Lankford, R-Okla., Bob Menendez, D-NJ, and Jim Risch, R-Idaho, co-sponsored the bill.

The bill cleared the Senate by unanimous consent this week.

“Religious freedom is a sacred right afforded to all men and women, and the United States has a duty to defend it. USCIRF plays a vital role in our nation’s efforts to stand up for those seeking to peacefully and freely worship, and we must ensure their work continues. I urge my colleagues in the House of Representatives to move quickly to pass this important legislation and send the bill to President Biden without delay,” Rubio said on Thursday.

“The human right to freedom of religion or belief is fundamental and reflected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” said Menendez who chairs the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “I’m proud to see the Senate speak with one voice in reaffirming our belief in the importance of this human right. In the coming years, the US Commission for International Religious Freedom must demonstrate a heightened level of objectivity in its approach to human rights violations. To that end, I urge the Commission to strengthen its efforts in protecting that right by objectively monitoring the exercise of freedom of religion or belief globally with respect to all faiths, and with respect to LGBTQI+ persons, and other members of vulnerable communities. This reauthorization will go a long way in providing USCIRF the resources needed to protect a critical human right that’s the bedrock of democratic, pluralistic, and open societies.”

“Every individual around the globe deserves the right to practice their own religion without fear. Unfortunately, religious freedom is under attack in all corners of the globe, including the genocide of Uyghurs in China, attacks on Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, and the persecution of Yazidis, Baha’is, Christians, and others in the Middle East. The Senate passage of our USCIRF reauthorization will ensure the United States utilizes every resource available to continue promoting religious freedom and investigate violations for all,” said Risch who leads Republicans on the Foreign Relations Committee.

“I applaud the Senate’s action to reauthorize the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, which is a vital part of our nation’s work to share our core value of religious freedom across the world. The Commission conducts crucial research and provides vital information on the status of religious liberty worldwide so we can ensure that religious freedom is protected and promoted for people of faith around the world. The right to choose your faith, practice your faith, change your faith, or have no faith at all is a fundamental human right of all people everywhere. We must continue to shine a light on those who do not protect the unalienable human right of religious freedom for all people. I encourage the House to swiftly take up this reauthorization to ensure that USCIRF is able to continue its invaluable work,” said Lankford

“Religious freedom – whether it is practicing your own faith or no faith at all – ought to be protected in every corner of the globe. I am glad to see the Senate reauthorize the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and help safeguard the ability of people around the world to worship safely and freely,” said Coons.

Attention now turns to the U.S. House, In May, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-NJ, introduced the companion measure over in the House with U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., as the only co-sponsor. The bill was sent to the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee. At the start of the month, U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., signed on as a co-sponsor.

Kevin Derby
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