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UPDATE: Both bills passed out of committee this morning, thanks in no small part to the dedication and actions of the activist community. House foreign affairs committee Chairman Howard Berman recognized these efforts in a statement posted on Facebook shortly after the vote:
Thanks to the hard work of activists across the country and worldwide, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs today came together in a bipartisan fashion and unanimously passed both the Conflict Minerals Act (H.R. 4128) and The Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act (S. 1067).
Lead co-sponsor Jim McGovern (D-MA), who introduced the LRA bill with Rep. Edward R. Royce (R-CA), reacted to the news as well:
“I’m very pleased that this important, bipartisan legislation will be moving to the House floor. It is crucial that the United States commit to a proactive strategy to help bring this conflict to an end and to strengthen humanitarian assistance.”
For activists and legislators who have been working hard to promote the Conflict Minerals Trade Act (H.R. 4128) and the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, today is a big day. The influential House Committee on Foreign Affairs will mark-up both bills starting at 10 a.m. in a public meeting.
What’s the significance of this step on the legislation’s long road to the White House?
For the LRA bill, since the committee opted to consider a version already voted on and passed by the Senate, approval today would send the bill to the full House of Representatives for a vote, and then, if it passes, on to President Obama’s desk.
For the House conflict minerals bill, it’s a bit more complicated. The conflict minerals bill is slated to be considered by three committees: Foreign Affairs, Ways and Means, and Armed Services. If it passes the Foreign Affairs committee today, it will then go to the other two committees for consideration before landing on the House floor for a vote.
Action today marks very important movement forward for both pieces of legislation. It’s a step closer to putting in place laws that will help end the Lord Resistance Army’s long reign of terror in Central Africa, and will help shine some light on the sordid trade in conflict minerals that is one source of eastern Congo’s conflict.
Enough’s Government Relations Associate Meghna Raj will be there live tweeting the highlights when the foreign affairs committee considers our two bills (of the five on their docket today). Follow her @Meghna4Enough. The committee is also live streaming the meeting, so tune in here if you want the full play-by-play.