House passes bill named for Elie Wiesel on combating genocide


WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bill named for Elie Wiesel that would make combating genocide official U.S. policy.

The bill approved Wednesday in a 406-5 vote requires the executive branch to report annually to Congress on identifying early warnings of genocide, training U.S. officials in identifying potential areas where genocide may occur and how any administration is mitigating genocide through U.S. mediation, among other means. It also would commit the United States to support criminal accountability for past genocides.

Reps. Ann Wagner, R-Mo., and Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., authored the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act, which was named for the Holocaust memoirist and Nobel peace laureate who died in 2016. Over the decades, Wiesel advised presidents of both parties on Holocaust commemoration and genocide prevention.

Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in floor remarks before the vote that the United States has always been a leader in combating genocide, but “there is more that can be done. U.S. efforts have been largely reactive and disjointed, with little transparency or oversight.”

The overwhelming bipartisan support for the bill comes at a time of concern in the foreign policy community that President Donald Trump is retreating from the lead role taken by the United States in advocacy for human rights.

A similar bill is under consideration in the Senate.

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