Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley today applauded the Senate Committee on Foreign Relation’s passage of the bipartisan Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, legislation Merkley introduced with U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) to ensure that goods made with forced labor from Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) do not enter the U.S. market. The next step for the legislation is a vote before the full U.S. Senate.
Merkley—the Chairman of the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) and member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations—has been at the forefront of the congressional push to strengthen the United States’ commitment to investigating and responding to the Chinese government’s human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims in China.
“Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang are being tortured, imprisoned, forced into labor, and pressured to abandon their religious and cultural practices by the Chinese government,” Merkley said. “America can’t stay silent in the face of this genocide, nor can we be complicit—meaning we have to make sure that items produced through such forced labor are not sold on American soil. That’s why it’s so crucial that we pass the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, ban the importation of these goods, and continue to do everything we can hold the perpetrators of this genocide accountable.”
Other steps taken by Merkley include cosponsoring the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, and authoring the bill’s provisions sanctioning Chinese leaders responsible for these human rights violations. Merkley also recently co-chaired a CECC hearing concerning steps Americans and American companies can take to use the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing to shine a spotlight on the Uyghur genocide, crackdown on freedoms in Hong Kong, and other human rights abuses in China.
In addition to Merkley and Rubio, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act was supported by U.S. Senators James Risch (R-ID), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Steve Daines (R-MT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Mark Warner (D-VA), James Lankford (R-OK), Tina Smith (D-MN), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rick Scott (R-FL), Ed Markey (D-MA), John Thune (R-SD), John Boozman (R-AR), Mike Braun (R-IN), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Todd Young (R-IN), Chris Coons (D-DE), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Angus King (I-ME), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Jon Tester (D-MT), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Tim Scott (R-SC), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI).