Wyden Blocks Uyghur Forced-Labor Bill | National Review

Wyden Blocks Uyghur Forced-Labor Bill | National Review

Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) on Capitol Hill, October 19, 2021. (Rod Lamkey/Pool via Reuters)

Senator Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) is standing in the way of legislation to crack down on Chinese Communist Party–perpetrated Uyghur slavery.

For the third time in a month, Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) sought a Senate vote on the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act — bipartisan legislation to end the import of forced-labor-produced goods — and, for the third time in a month, a congressional Democrat blocked the measure.

Since Rubio’s abortive effort to insert the legislation into the annual defense bill, he successfully prodded Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) to instead allow a vote on the House’s version of the Uyghur legislation — which passed resoundingly. The House and the Senate, as of this week, had ironed out a consensus draft of the legislation, which borrowed the strongest enforcement provisions from Rubio’s and Representative Jim McGovern’s (D., Mass.) versions, and the House once again voted on it.

Even the White House came out this afternoon with a pledge that President Biden would sign the Uyghur bill. This is significant because for months the administration declined to endorse the legislation, and reports indicated that top administration officials opposed the bill. But facing public pressure, and with the COP26 summit and Biden’s first virtual meeting with Xi Jinping in the rearview mirror, the White House relented.

But others picked up the baton, blocking the legislation. When Rubio sought a vote on the legislation this evening, Senator Chris Murphy (D., Conn.) and Wyden said they would block a vote unless they could get votes on the president’s diplomatic nominees and an extension of the child tax credit, respectively. Rubio agreed to Murphy’s demand for a vote on President Biden’s nominations for ambassador to China and two other State Department posts, but he declined Wyden’s request. Wyden then blocked Rubio’s request to approve the bill by unanimous consent.

Rubio pointed out the absurdity in all of this, citing the widespread bipartisan opposition to Wyden’s request. “It cannot pass unanimously, and even if it could and it did pass we would have to send it back over to the House, not to the President, when the House isn’t even in session until January 10.”

Even with a ridiculous flap over overwhelmingly bipartisan legislation and a Biden-administration lobbying campaign out of the way, enacting a law to confront a modern genocide continues to face unseemly hurdles.

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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.