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Christian News Wire: August 17, 2006
Report: Congress Falls Short in Effort to End Darfur Genocide
First-of-its-Kind Legislative Scorecard Highlights Champions -- and Failures -- in House and Senate
Potential Presidential Candidates Get Mixed Grades
Despite 2004 Declaration, Majority of Congress Has Done Little
WASHINGTON, Aug. 17 /Christian Newswire/ -- The first-ever "scorecard" grading Congress on its efforts to end the genocide in Darfur, Sudan shows that a large majority of legislators have failed to follow through with a unanimous congressional resolution in 2004 calling for an end to the genocide.
According to the report released today by the nonpartisan Genocide Intervention Network, both the US House of Representatives and the US Senate earned an overall grade of "C" based on the members' performance on a number of key legislative items intended to aggressively address the crisis. The scorecard, available online at www.DarfurScores.org, also recognizes a bipartisan coalition of representatives and senators vigorously supporting civilian protection for endangered civilians in Darfur. An executive summary and description of each state delegation's grade is available at the same link.
Congress made history in July 2004, by becoming the first governmental body in US history to declare genocide while it was actually occurring. Unanimous resolutions recognized that the atrocities in Darfur, in which as many as 400,000 civilians have been killed and more than 2.5 million have been displaced, constituted ongoing genocide backed by the Sudanese government.
"In 2006, less than half of the House and Senate effectively stood up for Darfur," GI-Net Executive Director Mark Hanis says. "To ensure protection for Dafurians in the future, an overwhelming majority of Congress must commit themselves to ending genocide and making 'never again' not just a promise we make, but a commitment we keep."
Members of both parties applaud the scorecard. "The Genocide Intervention Network's scorecard is an important reminder that there will be accountability for members of Congress when it comes to ending the genocide in Darfur," says Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). "I will continue to support and advocate for strong U.S. government initiatives to achieve this as I join so many in praying for the safety of the people of Darfur."
"The scorecard will keep the pressure on Congress, reminding them that while progress has been made, more needs to be done," agrees Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS). "Although the Senate took action this year to address the genocide taking place in Darfur, as many as 2 million people remain displaced and up to 5,000 people die each month from violence."
The scorecard measures whether each member of Congress supported and voted in favor of significant Darfur legislation introduced in the 109th Congress. The scorecard also recognizes extraordinary actions, such as sponsoring key legislation and congressional visits to the Darfur region.
In the Senate, Sens. Sam Brownback and Dick Durbin (D-IL) earned an "A+" for their efforts on behalf of Darfur. Eleven other senators also received this grade for their efforts.
In the House, Reps. Donald Payne (D-NJ), Frank Wolf (R-VA), Tom Tancredo (R-CO) and Michael Capuano (D-MA) earned the top grade. Out of the entire House of Representatives, only seven other representatives earned an "A+."
Members of Congress who may run for president received mixed grades. Earning an "A+" were Sens. Brownback, Obama (D-IL), Hillary Clinton (D-NY), John Kerry and Rep. Tancredo, with Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) earning an "A." Earning a "B" were Sens. Evan Bayh (D-IN), Joe Biden (D-DE) and Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN). Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) garnered a "C."
"Senators and representatives who received failing grades in 2006 must be reminded throughout the coming year of their responsibility to protect civilians from genocide," GI-Net Director of Advocacy Sam Bell says. "Members of Congress who received high marks should be thanked and encouraged to continue their vital work."
Bell says the first commitment Congress could make to protect civilians in Darfur would be to support the incoming UN peacekeeping mission. "Our immediate priority is a congressional appropriation to ensure that UN peacekeepers have the capabilities to stop genocide," he says.
The scorecard also gives constituents the tools to contact their members of Congress about their records and potential future actions on Darfur.
The Genocide Intervention Network is working to build the first permanent anti-genocide constituency in the United States, mobilizing the political will to stop genocide when it occurs. Accessible online at www.GenocideIntervention.net, GI-Net empowers individuals with tools to stop genocide through education, fundraising for civilian protection and advocacy efforts.
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