November 19, 2019

Risch, Rubio, Cardin, Menendez Praise Senate Passage of Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-ID), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, praised Senate passage of their Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act (S. 1838) today. The amended bipartisan bill was unanimously reported by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in September.

“The U.S. Senate took a stand today in support of the Hong Kong people,” said Risch. “Passing this legislation is an important step forward in holding the Chinese Communist Party accountable for its erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy and its repression of fundamental freedoms. This legislation is the product of a true bipartisan effort, and I’m glad that we have all come together with one voice to tell the people of Hong Kong that the United States stands with them.”

“Today, the United States Senate sent a clear message to Hong Kongers fighting for their long-cherished freedoms: we hear you, we continue to stand with you, and we will not stand idly by as Beijing undermines your autonomy,” said Rubio. “The passage of this bill is an important step in holding accountable those Chinese and Hong Kong government officials responsible for Hong Kong’s eroding autonomy and human rights violations. I thank Senator Cardin, Chairman Risch, and Ranking Member Menendez for their strong partnership on this legislation, as well as Leaders McConnell and Schumer for their support.”

“Both the United States Senate and House of Representatives have now demonstrated bipartisan solidarity with the people of Hong Kong as they stand up for their freedoms and basic human rights. It’s what we do as a democracy – support each other, especially when authoritarian regimes try to impose their will on free peoples,” said Cardin. “As the situation in Hong Kong deteriorates, China must understand that the United States of America is committed to the promised freedom and autonomy for Hong Kong.”

“Today, the Senate takes a momentous step forward in our nation’s long history of standing up for democracy and human rights across the world,” Menendez said. “With the situation in Hong Kong nearing a breaking point, this legislation will hopefully be a shot in the arm for the millions who have been patiently waiting for the United States to once again serve as a beacon of light and solidarity in their push to defend their basic rights and autonomy. Hong Kong authorities must de-escalate this situation by taking the appropriate steps to address the democratic desires of the people of Hong Kong -- including forming an independent commission to investigate police violence. This legislation makes it clear that the U.S. will stand firmly and unambiguously with the legitimate aspirations of the people of Hong Kong.”

Building on the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992 authored by Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), this amended bipartisan bill would require the Secretary of State to certify, no less than annually, whether Hong Kong continues to warrant special treatment under U.S. law based on the autonomy of its government decision-making related to human rights, law enforcement and extradition requests, universal suffrage, judicial independence, police and security functions, export controls, and sanctions enforcement. The legislation would also mandate the President to impose sanctions against foreign persons determined to be responsible for extrajudicial rendition, arbitrary detention, torture, or forced confession of people in Hong Kong, or other gross violations of human rights in Hong Kong.  In addition, the bill would task the Executive Branch to develop a strategy to protect American citizens and others in Hong Kong from rendition or abduction to China, and to report annually to Congress on violations of U.S. export controls laws and United Nations sanctions occurring in Hong Kong.

Additional co-sponsors include Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Angus S. King, Jr. (I-ME), Ed Markey (D-MA), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Susan Collins (R-ME), Chris Coons (D-DE), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), John Cornyn (R-TX), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Mark Warner (D-VA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Todd Young (R-IN), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Mitt Romney (R-UT), James Inhofe (R-OK), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Rick Scott (R-FL), Chris Murphy (D-CT), John Hoeven (R-ND), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bob Casey (D-PA), Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jack Reed (D-RI), James Lankford (R-OK), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Mike Braun (R-IN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), John Boozman (R-AR), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA).

The House passed similar legislation that was introduced by U.S. Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Chris Smith (R-NJ) in October.

Risch, Rubio, Cardin, and Menendez each spoke on the Senate floor ahead of today’s vote. Risch’s floor remarks can be found here.

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