Text: H.R.3432 — 110th Congress (2007-2008)All Information (Except Text)

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Public Law No: 110-183 (02/05/2008)

 
[110th Congress Public Law 183]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]


[DOCID: f:publ183.110]

[[Page 605]]

    COMMISSION ON THE ABOLITION OF THE TRANSATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE ACT

[[Page 122 STAT. 606]]

Public Law 110-183
110th Congress

                                 An Act


 
To establish the Commission on the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave 
              Trade. <<NOTE: Feb. 5, 2008 -  [H.R. 3432]>> 

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress <<NOTE: Commission on the Abolition 
of the Transatlantic Slave Trade Act.>> assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Commission on the Abolition of the 
Transatlantic Slave Trade Act''.
SEC. 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSE.

    (a) Findings.--Congress finds the following:
            (1) On March 2, 1807, President Thomas Jefferson signed into 
        law a bill approved by the Congress ``An Act to prohibit the 
        importation of slaves into any port or place within the 
        jurisdiction of the United States'' (hereinafter in this Act 
        referred to as the ``1808 Transatlantic Slave Trade Act'') and 
        made it unlawful ``to import or bring into the United States or 
        territories thereof from any foreign kingdom, place or country, 
        any negro, mulatto, or person of colour, with intent to hold, 
        sell, or dispose of such. . .as a slave, or to be held to 
        service or labour''.
            (2) Article I, Section 9 of the United States Constitution 
        clearly spelled out that the international slave trade could not 
        be banned before 1808, and it is only on January 1, 1808, that 
        the 1808 Transatlantic Slave Trade Act went into effect.
            (3) An Act entitled ``An Act to continue in force `An act to 
        protect the commerce of the United States, and punish the crime 
        of piracy,' and also to make further provisions for punishing 
        the crime of piracy'', enacted May 15, 1820, made it unlawful 
        for any citizen of the United States to engage ``in the slave 
        trade, or. . ., being of the crew or ship's company of any 
        foreign ship. . ., seize any negro or mulatto. . .with the 
        intent to make. . .a slave. . .or forcibly bring . . .on board 
        any such ship....''.
            (4) The transatlantic slave trade entailed the kidnapping, 
        purchase, and commercial export of Africans, mostly from West 
        and Central Africa, to the European colonies and new nations in 
        the Americas, including the United States, where they were 
        enslaved in forced labor between the 15th and mid-19th 
        centuries.
            (5) The term ``Middle Passage'' refers to the horrific part 
        of the transatlantic slave trade when millions of Africans were 
        chained together and stowed by the hundreds in overcrowded ships 
        where they were forced into small spaces for months

[[Page 122 STAT. 607]]

        without relief as they were transported across the Atlantic 
        Ocean to the Americas.
            (6) During the Middle Passage, enslaved Africans resisted 
        their enslavement through non-violent and violent means, 
        including hunger strikes, suicide, and shipboard revolts, the 
        most historically-recognized events taking place on board the 
        Don Carlos in 1732 and on board the Amistad in 1839.
            (7) Scholars estimate that, at a minimum, between 10,000,000 
        and 15,000,000 Africans survived the Middle Passage, were 
        imported as chattel through customs houses and ports across the 
        Americas, and were sold into slavery.
            (8) The thirteenth amendment to the Constitution of the 
        United States recognizes that ``Neither slavery nor involuntary 
        servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party 
        shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United 
        States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.''.
            (9) The slave trade and the legacy of slavery continue to 
        have a profound impact on social and economic disparity, hatred, 
        bias, racism, and discrimination, and continue to affect people 
        in the Americas, particularly those of African descent.
            (10) In 2007, the British Parliament marked the 200th 
        anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in the former 
        British Empire with plans launched by the Department for 
        Education and Skills which provided joint funding of %910,000 
        ($1,800,000) for the Understanding Slavery Initiative, and the 
        Heritage Lottery Fund announced awards of over %20,000,000 
        ($40,000,000) for projects to commemorate the anniversary.

    (b) Purpose.--The purpose of this Act is to establish the Commission 
on the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade to--
            (1) ensure a suitable national observance of the 
        bicentennial anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic 
        slave trade by sponsoring and supporting commemorative programs;
            (2) cooperate with and assist programs and activities 
        throughout the United States in observance of the bicentennial 
        anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade;
            (3) assist in ensuring that the observations of the 
        bicentennial anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic 
        slave trade are inclusive and appropriately recognize the 
        experiences of all people during this period in history;
            (4) support and facilitate international involvement in 
        observances of the bicentennial anniversary of the abolition of 
        the transatlantic slave trade; and
            (5) study the impact of the transatlantic slave trade on the 
        United States and the Americas.
SEC. 3. ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMISSION.

    There is established a commission to be known as the ``Commission on 
the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade'' (referred to in this 
Act as the ``Commission'').
SEC. 4. MEMBERSHIP, DUTIES, AND RELATED MATTERS.

    (a) Membership.--
            (1) In general.--
                    (A) The Commission shall be composed of nine 
                members, of whom--
                          (i) three shall be appointed by the Speaker of 
                      the House of Representatives;

[[Page 122 STAT. 608]]

                          (ii) two shall be appointed by the majority 
                      leader of the Senate;
                          (iii) two shall be appointed by the minority 
                      leader of the House of Representatives; and
                          (iv) two shall be appointed by the minority 
                      leader of the Senate.
                    (B) <<NOTE: Deadline.>>  Each appointing authority 
                described in subparagraph (A) shall appoint the initial 
                members of the Commission not later than 30 days after 
                the date of the enactment of this Act.
            (2) Qualifications.--Members of the Commission shall be 
        individuals with demonstrated expertise or experience in the 
        study and program facilitation on the transatlantic slave trade 
        and the institution of slavery as it relates to the United 
        States and the Americas.
            (3) Term; vacancies.--
                    (A) Term.--A member of the Commission shall be 
                appointed for the life of the Commission.
                    (B) Vacancies.--
                          (i) In general.--A vacancy on the Commission 
                      shall be filled in the same manner in which the 
                      original appointment was made.
                          (ii) Partial term.--A member appointed to fill 
                      a vacancy on the Commission shall serve for the 
                      remainder of the term for which the predecessor of 
                      the member was appointed.
            (4) Meetings.--
                    (A) In general.--The Commission shall meet--
                          (i) as many times as necessary; or
                          (ii) at the call of the Chairperson or the 
                      majority of the members of the Commission.
                    (B) <<NOTE: Deadline.>>  Initial meeting.--Not later 
                than 30 days after the date on which all members of the 
                Commission have been appointed, the Commission shall 
                hold its initial meeting.
                    (C) Notice of meetings.--All Commission members 
                shall be given reasonable advance notice of all 
                Commission meetings.
                    (D) <<NOTE: Deadline.>>  Appointment of chairperson 
                and executive director.--Not later than 60 days after 
                the date on which all members of the Commission have 
                been appointed, the Commission shall--
                          (i) designate one of the members as 
                      Chairperson; and
                          (ii) select an executive director as described 
                      under subsection (d)(2).
            (5) Voting.--
                    (A) In general.--The Commission shall act only on an 
                affirmative vote of a majority of the members of the 
                Commission.
                    (B) Quorum.--A majority of the members of the 
                Commission, which includes at least one member appointed 
                pursuant to clause (iii) or (iv) of paragraph (1)(A), 
                shall constitute a quorum for conducting business but 
                fewer members may meet or hold hearings.

    (b) Duties.--
            (1) In general.--The Commission shall--

[[Page 122 STAT. 609]]

                    (A) plan, develop, and execute programs and 
                activities appropriate to commemorate the bicentennial 
                anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave 
                trade;
                    (B) facilitate commemoration-related activities 
                throughout the United States;
                    (C) encourage civic, historical, educational, 
                religious, economic, and other organizations, as well as 
                State and local governments, throughout the United 
                States to organize and participate in anniversary 
                activities to expand the understanding and appreciation 
                of the significance of the transatlantic slave trade and 
                the institution of slavery, particularly as it relates 
                to the United States;
                    (D) coordinate and facilitate for the public 
                scholarly research on, publication about, and 
                interpretation of, the transatlantic slave trade and the 
                institution of slavery, particularly as it relates to 
                the United States;
                    (E) assist in the development of appropriate 
                programs and facilities to ensure that the bicentennial 
                anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave 
                trade provides a lasting legacy and long-term public 
                benefit;
                    (F) support and facilitate marketing efforts for the 
                issuance of a commemorative coin, postage stamp, and 
                related activities for observances;
                    (G) facilitate the convening of a joint meeting or 
                joint session of the Congress for ceremonies and 
                activities relating to the transatlantic slave trade and 
                the institution of slavery, particularly as it relates 
                to the United States;
                    (H) promote the sponsorship of conferences, 
                exhibitions, or public meetings concerning the 
                transatlantic slave trade and the institution of 
                slavery, particularly as it relates to the United 
                States;
                    (I) coordinate and facilitate the sponsorship of 
                high school and collegiate essay contests concerning the 
                transatlantic slave trade and the institution of 
                slavery, particularly as it relates to the United 
                States; and
                    (J) examine reports of modern-day slavery and human 
                trafficking to raise the public's awareness of these 
                matters and ensure such atrocities do not go unnoticed 
                by the people of the United States.
            (2) Initial report.--Not later than March 31, 2009, the 
        Commission shall submit to the Congress a report containing a 
        summary of the activities of the Commission for 2008.

    (c) Powers of the Commission.--The Commission may--
            (1) accept donations and gift items related to the 
        transatlantic slave trade, the institution of slavery, and the 
        significance of slavery to the history of the United States;
            (2) appoint such advisory committees as the Commission 
        determines necessary to carry out this Act;
            (3) authorize any member or employee of the Commission to 
        take any action that the Commission is authorized to take under 
        this Act;
            (4) procure supplies, services, and property, and make or 
        enter into contracts, leases, or other legal agreements, to 
        carry out this Act (except that any contracts, leases, or other 
        legal agreements made or entered into by the Commission shall 
        not extend beyond the date of the termination of the 
        Commission); and

[[Page 122 STAT. 610]]

            (5) use the United States mails in the same manner and under 
        the same conditions as other Federal agencies.

    (d) Personnel Matters.--
            (1) Compensation of members of the commission.--
                    (A) Basic pay.--Members of the Commission shall not 
                receive compensation for the performance of their duties 
                on behalf of the Commission.
                    (B) Travel expenses.--Upon approval of the 
                Chairperson, a member of the Commission shall be allowed 
                travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of 
                subsistence, at rates authorized for an employee of an 
                agency under subchapter I of chapter 57 of title 5, 
                United States Code, while away from their homes or 
                regular place of business in the performance of their 
                duties on behalf of the Commission.
            (2) Staff.--
                    (A) In general.--The Chairperson of the Commission 
                shall, without regard to the civil service laws 
                (including regulations), appoint and terminate an 
                executive director and such other additional personnel 
                as are necessary to enable the Commission to perform its 
                duties.
                    (B) Executive director.--
                          (i) Qualifications.--The person appointed 
                      executive director shall have demonstrated 
                      expertise or experience in the study and program 
                      facilitation on the transatlantic slave trade and 
                      the institution of slavery, particularly as it 
                      relates to the United States.
                          (ii) Confirmation.--The employment of an 
                      executive director shall be subject to 
                      confirmation by the members of the Commission.
                    (C) Compensation.--The Chairperson of the Commission 
                may fix the compensation of the executive director and 
                other personnel without regard to the provisions of 
                chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of title 5, 
                United States Code, relating to classification of 
                positions and General Schedule pay rates, except that 
                the rate of pay for the executive director and other 
                personnel may not exceed the rate payable for level V of 
                the Executive Schedule under section 5316 of such title.
                    (D) Volunteer and uncompensated services.--
                Notwithstanding section 1342 of title 31, United States 
                Code, the Commission may accept and use voluntary and 
                uncompensated services as the Commission determines 
                necessary.

    (e) Procurement of Temporary and Intermittent Services.--The 
Chairperson of the Commission may procure temporary and intermittent 
services in accordance with section 3109(b) of title 5, United States 
Code, at rates for individuals that do not exceed the daily equivalent 
of the annual rate of basic pay prescribed for level V of the Executive 
Schedule under section 5316 of that title.
    (f) Non-Applicability of FACA.--Section 14(b) of the Federal 
Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App.) shall not apply to the 
Commission.

[[Page 122 STAT. 611]]

SEC. 5. TERMINATION.

    (a) Date of Termination.--The Commission shall terminate on December 
31, 2009.
    (b) Final Report.--Upon termination, the Commission shall submit to 
the Congress a report containing--
            (1) a detailed statement of the activities of the 
        Commission; and
            (2) a final accounting of the funds received and expended by 
        the Commission.

    Approved February 5, 2008.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY--H.R. 3432:
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CONGRESSIONAL RECORD:
                                                        Vol. 153 (2007):
                                    Oct. 2, considered and passed House.
                                    Dec. 19, considered and passed 
                                        Senate, amended.
                                                        Vol. 154 (2008):
                                    Jan. 22, House concurred in Senate 
                                        amendment.

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