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Appointment of Conferees on H.R. 4613, Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2005

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Location: Washington, DC


APPOINTMENT OF CONFEREES ON H.R. 4613, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2005 -- (House of Representatives - July 13, 2004)

Mr. LEWIS of California. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to take from the Speaker's table the bill (H.R. 4613) making appropriations for the Department of Defense for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2005, and for other purposes, with a Senate amendment thereto, disagree to the Senate amendment, and agree to the conference asked by the Senate.

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Ms. PELOSI. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding and commend him for his leadership on this very important subject.

The situation in the Sudan challenges the conscience of the world, certainly of our country; and I am happy that this Congress is responding. I am pleased that the gentleman from California (Mr. Lewis) is not in opposition to this motion to instruct the conferees to support the highest level of funding to respond to the crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan. Again, I thank the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Jackson) for offering the motion. I also want to acknowledge the leadership of the ranking member, the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Murtha), for his leadership in including $95 million in funding for the humanitarian crisis in the Sudan in this bill.

Mr. Speaker, the situation in Darfur is truly an emergency; it is a crisis. Without immediate and effective international intervention, hundreds of thousands of people will die. That is for sure. It is so sad.

The Sudanese government has mobilized militias to carry out a scorched-earth policy of indiscriminate attacks on African civilians. As many as 30,000 civilians may have already been murdered, and more than 1 million driven off their land into unprotected camps in the Sudan and neighboring Chad.

Both USAID and the United Nations have described these atrocities as "ethnic cleansing," and the Committee on Conscience of our own Holocaust Museum has issued a genocide warning for Darfur. Ethnic cleansing, genocide. We must act.

A genocide in the making demands the immediate attention of our government.

I call upon the Bush administration to keep the pressure on the Sudanese government. Sudanese officials must know that the United States and the international community will not tolerate the continuation of the humanitarian tragedy in Darfur.

Both the House and Senate Defense Appropriations bills contain $95 million for emergency humanitarian relief in Darfur. As critical as these funds are, however, they can only help those whose lives are in danger if the Sudanese government cooperates.

The Sudanese government must fulfill its promises to restrain the militias it controls and to remove the bureaucratic barriers that make delivery of relief supplies so difficult. That includes facilitating visas for providers to enter the country. The evidence to date does not suggest that the Sudanese are serious about helping to end the misery in Darfur.

The recent visits of Secretary Powell and U.N. Secretary General Annan to Darfur were helpful in focusing attention on this crisis, and I commend both of them for the priority they have given to the Sudan, but much more needs to be done if we are to avert a catastrophe.

We spoke so much about the situation in Rwanda and we did not act soon enough, and it was horrible. If we ever had the opportunity again, we would certainly rise to the occasion. Well, it is happening again; and we must rise to the occasion. The Sudanese government is not.

President Bush must not hesitate to impose sanctions as necessary to encourage a much higher degree of cooperation by the Sudanese government. Our response to the daily misery in Darfur must not be half-measured and delayed. We must act now while there is time to stop further slaughter, or our country will look back at lives lost in Darfur with the same regret and shame that we feel for other events in other parts of Africa, as I mentioned, Rwanda. My colleague, the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Jackson), pointed out that even if we acted now, still about 300,000 people will die. We can hopefully lower that number, but it certainly will be higher if we do not act.

How many times have we heard the public outcry, Why did we not stop the killings? This is a crisis. This is an emergency. We must act now to stop the slaughter of thousands of innocent people.

Mr. Speaker, I commend once again the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Jackson), our colleague; and the gentlewoman from Michigan (Ms. Kilpatrick), a member of the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs of the Committee on Appropriations, working with the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Jackson) to get additional funding in that bill, in addition to the $95 million.

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