(House of Representatives - July 20, 2011)

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[Pages H5266-H5269]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  Mr. BOUSTANY. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the 
joint resolution (H.J. Res. 66) approving the renewal of import 
restrictions contained in the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 
2003, as amended.
  The Clerk read the title of the joint resolution.
  The text of the joint resolution is as follows:

                              H.J. Res. 66

       Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
     United States of America in Congress assembled,

                   FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY ACT OF 2003.

       (a) In General.--Congress approves the renewal of the 
     import restrictions contained in section 3(a)(1) and section 
     3A (b)(1) and (c)(1) of the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act 
     of 2003.
       (b) Rule of Construction.--This joint resolution shall be 
     deemed to be a ``renewal resolution'' for purposes of section 
     9 of the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003.


        The budgetary effects of this Act, for the purpose of 
     complying with the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010, shall 
     be determined by reference to the latest statement titled 
     ``Budgetary Effects of PAYGO Legislation'' for this Act, 
     submitted for printing in the Congressional Record by the 
     Chairman of the House Budget Committee, provided that such 
     statement has been submitted prior to the vote on passage.


        This joint resolution shall take effect on the date of the 
     enactment of this joint resolution or July 26, 2011, 
     whichever occurs earlier.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Louisiana (Mr. Boustany) and the gentleman from Washington (Mr. 
McDermott) each will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Louisiana.

                             General Leave

  Mr. BOUSTANY. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members 
may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their 
remarks and include extraneous material on the resolution under 
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Louisiana?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. BOUSTANY. I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, as an original cosponsor of this joint resolution, I 
rise in strong support of H.J. Res. 66, which would continue the 
imposition of sanctions against the repressive regime in Burma for 
another year.
  The purpose of imposing sanctions against Burma is to promote 
democracy and respect for human rights and improve living conditions 
for the Burmese people. Unfortunately, the ruling junta is still 
dedicated to working against, not toward, those objectives. For that 
reason I am in favor of continuing our practice of extending import 
sanctions against Burma for another year.
  Burma's regime is one of the world's most repressive and continues to 
oppress democratic movements and humanitarianism. On November 7, 2010, 
the military junta, known, ironically, as the State Peace and 
Development Council, or SPDC, held an election for the first time in 20 
years. However, while elections are usually considered a step towards 
democracy, in this case it was actually a step backwards. These 
elections were not transparent, inclusive, or credible.
  Notably, Burma's leading pro-democracy party, the National League for 
Democracy, as well as others, was not allowed to participate in the 
elections. And by ensuring that most candidates were former high-
ranking government and military officials, the election ``victory'' by 
the government-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party simply 
means that the military junta remained in control with the veneer of an 
election to simply justify itself.
  Shortly following the elections, Aung San Suu Kyi--freedom fighter, 
Nobel Peace Prize recipient and Congressional Gold Medal winner, and 
general secretary of the NLD--was finally released after having been 
falsely detained for 15 of the past 21 years.
  However, in a move highlighting how little things have changed in 
Burma, the junta recently warned Suu Kyi that ``there may be chaos and 
riots'' if she continues on her cross-country tour to meet with 
supporters. The government also chided Suu Kyi and the NLD for their 
political work and threatened that ``they should stop doing so to avert 
unnecessary consequences.'' On Suu Kyi's last tour in 2003, she was 
attacked by a pro-government mob that killed many of her followers and 
landed her under house arrest for the next 7 years.
  In short, the recent election does not represent any kind of shift in 
domestic Burmese politics. In fact, the political situation in Burma 
and for the Burmese people has not changed at all.
  The human rights situation is no better. The State Department human 
rights report on Burma, echoed by the March United Nations Human Rights 
Council Resolution, cites a laundry list of grave human rights 
violations that are simply appalling. According to the State 
Department, this repugnant regime, in which military officers wield the 
ultimate authority at every level of government, continues to use 
forced labor, denies participation in any democratic processes, and 
commits extrajudicial killings. The regime detains civic activists 
indefinitely and without charge, and it engages in harassment, abuse, 
and detention of human rights and pro-democracy activists. The regime 
is rumored to hold an estimated 2,100 political prisoners.

[[Page H5267]]

  Ethnic violence inflicted by the army is also rife. There have been 
recent reports of renewed fighting in the northern Burmese province of 
Kachin between the government and ethnic minority villagers, resulting 
in reportedly up to 20,000 refugees. Not only have these people been 
driven from their homes and many killed, there have also been 
widespread reports of the rape of women and children.
  What have we been doing on our end? I'm pleased that this Congress 
amplified our sanctions 3 years ago to eliminate trade in jewelry 
containing Burmese rubies and jadeite, even if the jewelry was made in, 
and exported from, a third country. The expansion was designed to bring 
about multilateral pressure on the regime through the United Nations 
and the World Trade Organization, similar to successful legislation on 
conflict diamonds. I urge similar campaigns against Burmese rubies and 
jadeite at the U.N. and WTO.
  I must be clear that I generally view import sanctions with great 
skepticism. However, if there is a right way to impose sanctions, I 
think that these Burma sanctions are crafted to maximize the ability to 
effect change. For example, they require the administration to issue 
annual reports on Burma that include findings on whether U.S. national 
security, economic, and foreign policy interests are being served so 
that we can make an informed decision.

                              {time}  1530

  Perhaps the most critical aspect of the Burma sanctions program is 
that they require us to redirect our attention every summer to the 
question of whether these sanctions should be continued. Because they 
are not self-executing, we here in Congress must consider this issue 
and vote to continue them on an annual basis.
  I continue to believe that our greatest hope for effecting real 
change in Burma is multilateralism. I am therefore disappointed that 
there has not been sufficient multilateral pressure against this 
  I strongly urge the administration to put more pressure on our 
trading partners to place the leaders of this regime under targeted 
economic pressure that denies them access to personal wealth and 
sources of revenue.
  I call on the United Nations, Burma's Southeast Asian neighbors in 
ASEAN, and the People's Republic of China to step up engagement 
  I support this resolution because it increases our chances to bring 
about this multilateral effort, to promote democracy and to end the 
longtime suffering of the Burmese people.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. McDERMOTT. I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of House Joint Resolution 66, a 
measure to renew the ban on imports for Burma.
  Over the past 23 years, Burma's authoritarian regime has detained or 
killed political opponents, waged war against ethnic minorities and, in 
the process, accumulated one of the worst human rights records in 
modern history. Finally, in 2010, with continued pressure from Congress 
and the inspiring leadership of Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, 
Burma's military junta promised to lay down its arms and clear the way 
for democracy. Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, it was a sham.
  Parliamentary elections held last November were rife with fraud. 
Opposition parties were intimidated by the police and banned from 
offering up candidates. Votes were rigged to provide electoral 
legitimacy to the existing military rule. Once again, the people of 
Burma were denied a free and fair opportunity to choose their own 
leaders. Human rights abuse is widespread and continues to go 
unprosecuted. Under the guise of a new civilian parliament, it is 
``business as usual'' for the old regime.
  In light of the unchanged political reality in Burma, the renewal of 
America's ban on Burmese imports could not be more urgent. We must send 
a message to Burma's new rulers, who turned out to be the same old 
rulers, that empty promises of democratic reform are unacceptable.
  Now, there are some who question whether we should maintain our 
import ban following Burma's election and the formal dissolution of the 
military junta. Even our European allies have begun to rethink their 
strategy as EU travel and financial restrictions have been lifted on 
certain officials in the new government.
  The problem with that approach, Mr. Speaker, is that meaningful 
reform has yet to take place in Burma. By opening our borders to 
Burmese imports, we would only strengthen and enrich the same old 
regime that maintains a stranglehold on civic and family life in Burma. 
According to the U.N., the new government has failed to make any 
significant progress on land confiscation, forced labor, the internal 
displacement of people, extrajudicial killings, and sexual violence 
against women. The Obama administration affirms this view.
  Burma's sanctions are unique because they have the widespread support 
of the Burmese people. Aung San Suu Kyi, herself, recently said, 
``Sanctions must remain in place'' and ``should only be lifted when 
something has changed here.'' Aung San Suu Kyi's political party, the 
National League of Democracy, also confirmed its view that American 
sanctions ``do not hurt the public at large'' as the true target is 
Burma's undemocratic leadership.
  In response, true to form, the so-called ``new government'' warned 
publicly that Suu Kyi and members of her party could meet ``tragic 
ends'' if they continued to call for international sanctions.
  In passing H.J. Res. 66 and reauthorizing the Block Burmese JADE Act 
of 2008, Congress will send a clear message of support to the people of 
Burma in their aspirations for true democracy and lasting peace.
  Until there is meaningful reform in Burma, Mr. Speaker, we must keep 
steadfast in our support of the Burmese people and maintain the 
pressure on Burma's undemocratic rulers. I urge my colleagues to pass 
House Joint Resolution 66.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. BOUSTANY. Mr. Speaker, I am now pleased to yield 2\1/2\ minutes 
to the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Pitts).
  Mr. PITTS. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this important 
resolution to renew sanctions against the brutal military dictators in 
  The plight facing the people of Burma remains terrible. The ruling 
party in Burma continues to use the rule of law and government 
apparatus to deprive minority groups of their human rights and their 
lives, and it does so with impunity. The regime's human rights 
violations continue to be horrific. The regime in Burma is responsible 
for committing virtually every human rights violation imaginable. The 
atrocities perpetrated by the regime range from the use of rape as a 
weapon of terror, the recruitment of child soldiers, ethnic cleansing, 
forced labor, political detention, and the list goes on.
  I have received firsthand reports in my office which detail the 
dictatorship's use of ethnic minorities as human landmine sweepers. 
Over 1 million refugees and 500,000 internally displaced peoples have 
been forced to flee their homes, and 750,000 of the country's 
inhabitants remain stateless. Indicative of the times, the regime has 
now turned to the censorship of the Internet, as well as that of 
individual e-mail accounts and social networking sites, to block the 
dissemination of evidence related to the atrocities.
  The Burmese Government must realize that such attempts to hide its 
record of abuse, as well as its dishonest elections and mock 
constitutional reforms, cannot cover up the junta's war against its own 
people. Such a record only demonstrates the regime's illegitimacy.
  I call on the administration to renew its efforts in fulfilling the 
Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003, particularly the provision 
which requires our government to craft a multilateral sanctions regime 
against Burma.
  By renewing these sanctions, Congress is making our Nation's concern 
for human rights paramount in our foreign relations interests. The 
administration should do the same. The people of Burma must know that 
we stand with them.
  Mr. McDERMOTT. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to 
the gentleman from New York (Mr. Crowley).

[[Page H5268]]

  Mr. CROWLEY. I thank my friend from Washington for yielding me such 
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of House Joint Resolution 66.
  This measure is a sign of how we can all work together on foreign 
policy when we put our minds to it. I want to acknowledge the 
bipartisan support, both here in the House as well as in the Senate, 
for human rights in Burma.
  The Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act and the Burmese JADE Act 
together have prevented hundreds of millions of dollars from getting 
into the hands of the Burmese military apparatus. By passing these 
bills into law and renewing them this year, we have ensured that the 65 
million people of Burma see us, the United States, as an ally in their 
struggle for human rights, and we have helped send a signal to others 
around the world that the United States will not turn a blind eye to 
crimes against humanity.
  There is no question that Burma is ruled by one of the world's most 
brutal governments. Over the past year, we have seen ongoing abuses 
committed by the Burmese military, including rapes, torture and 
killings. Just last week, Human Rights Watch released a report, 
documenting how villagers are subjected to summary executions, torture 
and being used as human shields during conflict. The women in Burma 
live in constant fear of rapes by soldiers of their own military. For 
the leaders of the Burmese military, rape is a tactic of war--one used 
to torment and to intimidate entire populations, not just their 
immediate victims.
  In fact, just 2 weeks ago, on July 5, the Burmese soldiers carried 
out four more rapes against ethnic civilians. The innocent victims were 
of all different ages. One of those victims was as young as 12 years of 
age. That's right. A 12-year-old girl was raped by a member of the 
Burmese military.

                              {time}  1540

  As a result of thousands of brutal rapes and other abuses, Burmese 
villagers continue to flee their homes into the jungle where they live 
as refugees or internally displaced people.
  As bad as these abuses are, this bill is not only about stopping 
human rights abuses. We must remember that the inspiration for this 
measure came from the remarkable woman, Nobel Peace Prize recipient 
Aung San Suu Kyi. She led her political party to victory in Burma's 
last free and fair election in 1990. Many people call her the Nelson 
Mandela of Burma, and the U.S. House of Representatives voted to award 
her the Congressional Gold Medal.
  Up until last November, she was also the world's only imprisoned 
Nobel Peace Prize recipient, and today, even though she is no longer 
under formal house arrest, the military has threatened her over and 
over again in an attempt to intimidate her into silence. She has called 
on the people throughout the world to take action saying, ``Please use 
your liberty to promote ours.''
  She and the democracy movement in Burma have also called for us to 
maintain sanctions on Burma. This is similar to how the African 
National Congress led by Nelson Mandela called for sanctions on South 
Africa in the 1980s.
  Passing this bill isn't all we must do. I want to urge the 
administration to fully implement the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act 
and Block Burmese JADE Act. The JADE Act gives the administration tools 
to implement tough bilateral financial sanctions on members of the 
Burmese regime and its cronies, and we should proceed as soon as 
  It's important to remember that the United States isn't the only 
country that has imposed sanctions on Burma. This is not a bilateral 
effort. It is a multilateral effort. While every country has different 
types of sanctions, those that have taken action include Australia, 
Canada, New Zealand, the European Union, and more. We should be doing 
all we can to expand these sanctions into an even greater multilateral 
effort. That's why in the Burmese JADE Act, we ask the President to 
appoint an envoy to work internationally on increasing pressure on the 
Burmese regime.
  Now that this envoy has been nominated, I urge our colleagues in the 
Senate to confirm him without haste, and I hope he gets to work right 
away on strengthening and implementing multilateral pressure.
  I also believe the administration should work proactively to 
establish an international investigation into crimes against humanity 
committed by the Burmese military. The Burmese leadership is clearly 
carrying out crimes against humanity. The sooner these abuses are 
investigated, the sooner they will end.
  Mr. Speaker, this bill is the right thing to do. I stand in strong 
support of this bill, and I urge its immediate adoption.
  Mr. BOUSTANY. I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. McDERMOTT. I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from New Jersey 
(Mr. Holt).
  Mr. HOLT. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend from Washington, and I rise 
in support of this resolution.
  When I first visited Burma decades ago, I learned what a difference a 
misguided regime can make. Burma had been a vibrant country known as 
the Rice Bowl of Asia. Burma had a rich history, fertile land, abundant 
resources, and a productive population.
  In the years following the coup in the early 1960s, the authoritarian 
regime impoverished the nation and brutalized its people, a pattern 
that persists today. For more than 20 years, the United States 
Government has sought to use its influence to try to create conditions 
for a restoration of democracy and the rule of law in Burma. One tool 
has been the use of sanctions.
  The Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act was signed into law 8 years ago 
this month, and it requires the President to impose a ban on the import 
of products from Burma. It blocks U.S. support for loans from 
international financial institutions and freezes the assets of and bans 
visas for key members of the military junta that has imposed its will 
on the Burmese people for decades. I believe these sanctions should be 
renewed because there is evidence they are working.
  Last November, Burmese elections were clearly illegitimate and not a 
free expression of the will of the Burmese people. But the continuing 
international pressure on and scrutiny of the junta may be having some 
tangible effects.
  As the international crisis group noted earlier this year, two senior 
junta leaders have resigned since the elections, and there is some 
evidence that pressure has eased on some of the minority ethnic groups 
in the country.
  Burma's greatest human rights figure, Aung San Suu Kyi, told the 
Australian Broadcasting Network yesterday that continued use of 
targeted sanctions is important. ``I think it's much better to have 
very, very clear targets,'' she said, and continued, ``I do not think 
it's really very reasonable just to say, `We want an improvement in 
human rights, in your human rights record.' It's too vague. The release 
of political prisoners, the inclusion of all in the political process, 
the rule of law and so on--pick out the important points and say, 
`Well, if you want sanctions removed, you've got to do these.'''
  Mr. Speaker, we need to continue standing with Aung San Suu Kyi and 
all of the freedom-seeking Burmese. This resolution gives us a chance 
to do that, which is why I urge my colleagues to join us in supporting 
this resolution.
  Mr. BOUSTANY. Mr. Speaker, I continue to reserve the balance of my 
  Mr. McDERMOTT. I would only say that this bill expires on the 26th of 
July, so we need to act on it quickly.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. BOUSTANY. I am in full agreement. We need to move and pass this, 
and I think we'll get it passed.
  I must say to the gentleman from Washington, at least we have a trade 
bill on the floor. I hope there are many more to come. We're waiting 
for the President to send the three pending agreements to us so that we 
can move forward on these and embark on a very aggressive trade agenda.
  Mr. KING of New York. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.J. Res. 66, 
a resolution approving the renewal of import restrictions contained in 
the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act (P.L. 108-61). I am proud to have 
once again introduced this legislation this year with the gentleman 
from New York, Mr. Crowley.
  In 2003, Congress passed the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act, 
legislation that

[[Page H5269]]

I co-authored with my friend, the late Tom Lantos. President Bush 
signed this bill into law and Congress has reauthorized these import 
restrictions every year since. The legislation bans imports from Burma 
and the issuance of visas to those officials affiliated with the State 
Peace and Development Council (SPDC), the military junta that rules 
Burma and brutally represses its people. This law also bans U.S. 
financial transactions that involve individuals or entities connected 
with the SPDC.
  The sanctions are critically important to keeping the pressure on the 
Burmese junta. The government continues to have one of the worst human 
rights record in the world and routinely violates the rights of Burmese 
citizens, including the systematic use of rape as a weapon of war, 
extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and detention, torture and 
child labor. Moreover, the Burmese regime has more child soldiers than 
any other country and has destroyed more than 3,700 ethnic villages, 
displaced approximately 2,000,000 people, more than 600,000 of which 
are internally displaced, and has taken nearly 2,000 political 
  We must continue to stand with the Burmese people and expose the 
despicable and reprehensible actions of the SPDC. Sanctions are 
critical to putting pressure on the junta. In 2008, the Tom Lantos 
Block Burmese JADE Act (P.L. 110-286) was signed into law, which bans 
the importation of Burmese gems into the United States and freezes the 
assets of Burmese political and military leaders. While these steps are 
significant, others must follow ours and the EU's lead. The Association 
of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the United Nations Security 
Council (UNSC) must impose multilateral sanctions against Burma's 
military regime including a complete arms embargo.
  While I applaud the confirmation of Derek Mitchell as Special 
Coordinator for Burma, there are additional provisions of the Tom 
Lantos Block Burmese JADE Act that have yet to be implemented. I urge 
the Obama Administration to call for a UN Commission of Inquiry on 
Burma to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity. This 
Commission is necessary to prevent further killings and to encourage a 
meaningful political dialogue.
  I urge adoption of the resolution.
  Mr. BOUSTANY. I yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentleman from Louisiana (Mr. Boustany) that the House suspend the 
rules and pass the joint resolution, H.J. Res. 66, as amended.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the 
rules were suspended and the joint resolution, as amended, was passed.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.