Chairman Royce Applauds Passage of Measures on State Department Inspector General, Vietnam Human Rights, U.S.-Jordan Relationship, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, chaired by U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), unanimously passed four bipartisan measures:  legislation urging the President to nominate a State Department Inspector General, promoting freedom and democracy in Vietnam, strengthening the U.S.-Jordan relationship, and highlighting and seeking a resolution of the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  A summary of the Committee action, including adopted amendments, is available HERE

The Committee passed H.Res. 273, (introduced by Chairman Royce and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY))  a resolution expressing the sense of the House that the President should nominate an Inspector General for the Department of State and Broadcasting Board of Governors.

Chairman Royce said:  “For months, on a bipartisan basis, Ranking Member Eliot Engel and I have called on the Administration to fill the vacant Inspector General position for the Department of State and Broadcasting Board of Governors.  We’ve written to President Obama, we’ve written to Secretary Kerry; stressing the importance of appointing a permanent Inspector General.  I raised it with the Secretary at a Committee hearing in April .  It’s been nearly 2,000 days since a permanent IG was last in place.  It is past time for this vacancy to be filled. IGs are the government’s internal watchdogs.  They police agencies for waste, fraud, and abuse.  The resolution is non-partisan for the simple reason that the concept of a Presidentially-appointed, Senate-confirmed permanent IG is fundamental to the very notion of good government.” 

The Committee also passed legislation that promotes freedom and democracy in Vietnam.  H.R. 1897 (Chairman Royce is lead co-sponsor of bill introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ)) blocks non-humanitarian assistance to Vietnam if the Communist government fails to make progress regarding its political and religious prisoners.

Chairman Royce said“I am a strong supporter of H.R. 1897, the Vietnam Human Rights Act of 2013, of which I am a lead cosponsor. Over the years, this Committee has held many hearings on Vietnam.  If these hearings have had one consistent theme, it’s the deterioration of human rights there.  Government thugs brutalize peaceful dissidents.  Anyone who dares to blog or publish material on democracy or anything critical of the Communist party faces years in jail and physical abuse.  We need to send a message to the Communist government; a message with teeth. This bill does just that.”

The Committee also passed H. Res. 222, (introduced by Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY)) as amended, a resolution recognizing the long-term partnership and friendship between the United States and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, working together towards peace and security in the Middle East.

Chairman Royce said:  “The Committee recently hosted the King of Jordan. Jordan continues to be a critical voice of moderation in the region and a key partner for peace.  Today, Jordan has worked to address the needs of approximately 550,000 Syrian refugees, which have poured across its borders in the past two years, resulting in a 10 percent population increase.  This is seriously straining Jordan.  Mr. Meek’s resolution notes the mutual benefits of a strong U.S.-Jordan relationship.” 

The Committee also passed H. Res. 131, (introduced by Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA)) as amended, a resolution concerning the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the need for international efforts toward long-term peace, stability, and observance of human rights.

Chairman Royce said:  Ms. Bass has been dogged in bringing attention to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Just last week, the State Department announced former Senator Russ Feingold as Special Envoy for the Great Lakes, in part at her urging.  Too many people have died. Too many people continue to suffer. The conflict in the DRC has lasted decades. Patience with this peacekeeping operation is wearing thin. We expect all regional leaders to respect and abide by the negotiated frameworks.”

A summary of the Committee action, including adopted amendments, is available HERE