Its been a big week for the Conflict Minerals Trade Act, or H.R. 4128. Not only did the bill pass out of the Foreign Affairs Committee, bringing it one step closer to becoming law, it also picked up four new cosponsors, making the total 39. During the full committee markup on Wednesday, ranking member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) solidified her support of H.R. 4128 by announcing she would become a cosponsor of the legislation. The backing of such a senior Republican demonstrates that Congress is unified in its quest to end human rights abuses in eastern Congo. The other cosponsors who signed on were:
Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA)
Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI)
Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA)
This momentum on the House side, kick started by our successful Change the Equation campaign last week, seems to have crossed over to the Senate as well. As of Tuesday, Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) became the newest cosponsor for S.891, the Congo Conflict Minerals Act, bringing the total to 22.
Both the House Conflict Minerals Trade Act and the Senate Congo Conflict Minerals Act are “name and shame or sunshine” bills, aimed at bringing transparency to the trade in conflict minerals which fund some of the most ruthless armed activities in eastern Congo. These minerals are used in virtually every electronics product on the market today – from our cell phones and digital cameras to our laptops and fax machines. Both pieces of legislation will work to ensure that products coming into the U.S. do not contain these conflict minerals, thus severing the link between American consumers and violence in eastern Congo.
Let’s keep the momentum going! Tell Congress to help stop the widespread use of rape and violence in Congo by calling the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121, asking for your member, and urging him/her to support these two pieces of important legislation. Also, through Enough’s RAISE Hope for Congo campaign, you can send an email to the 21 largest electronics companies urging them to commit to making conflict-free products.
Carly Oboth contributed to this blog post.
Photo: U.S. Capitol