6/23 Erik Paulsen Correspondence Corner : Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act

PREFACE :
Erik Paulsen regularly issues a video Correspondence Corner in which he responds to constituent questions.
It is a great ploy — Congressman Paulsen determines what question is to be answered … thus, providing him an opportunity to portray himself as effectively responding to issues that he wishes to address as if they are the most critical issues that voters want addressed.
The MN Political Roundtable will be evaluating Congressman Paulsen’s responses and encouraging readers to offer their own assessments.

Yesterday’s topic, H.R.2353 – Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act.
Today’s topic – H.R. 3030 – Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2017

Now while Washington is buzzing about the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act (aka the Senate version of the Paulsen-backed American Healthcare Reform Act), Congressman Paulsen ignores that issue to focus on CTE and genocide prevention.

OK … quick question … who would support genocides and atrocities ?

So, on the surface, a bill entitled “Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2017” should get universal support ?
In fact, the Senate version, which was announced on May 17th, includes Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken as original co-sponsors.
The House took a little longer to offer their version (June 22) with Democrat Joe Crowley and Republican Ann Wagner as the lead sponsors and are joined by Minnesota Representatives Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum and Erik Paulsen.

Funny thing is that last week, Representatives Ellison and McCollum sent numerous tweets about the Republican healthcare plan … but didn’t think they needed to promote that they opposed genocides — guess they thought that was a common view.
Conversely, Congressman Paulsen tweeted and featured H.R. 3030 on his Correspondence Corner while ignoring the healthcare issue.

Ok, so let’s look at what H.R. 3030 is to be accomplished :

Create a Mass Atrocities Task Force
The Secretary of State would be instructed to establish a high-level interagency task force to help the U.S. government better coordinate across various agencies and departments to improve the government’s ability to respond and prevent genocide and mass atrocities.

Authorize the Complex Crises Fund (CCF)
The CCF is a flexible spending account used by USAID and the State Department to bolster prevention efforts and rapidly respond to unforeseen conflicts.

Provide training for Foreign Service Officers to better recognize the early warning signs of violent conflict, mass atrocities, and genocide.

Require annual reporting by the Director of National Intelligence on the countries and regions most at risk of mass atrocities, and a report by the Secretary of State every three years evaluating the U.S. government’s efforts to prevent genocide and mass atrocities and recommendations for improvement.

Sure sounds like a program that Americans would support … but the problem may be not in Congress but in the White House and State Department.

Yeah, you know the whole America First Agenda, the closing of our borders to refugees, establishing a travel ban and rejecting the responsibilities to be the world’s policeman.
Heck it was just April 4th, President Trump declared: “I don’t want to be the president of the world. I’m the president of the United States. And from now on, it’s going to be America First.”

Now, just months later, Congressman Paulsen says he wants the “global community to get involved.”

Good for him … just wish he would have said it a little earlier.

After all, the International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for President al-Bashir regarding his actions on Darfur for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

In fact, a review of a number of resolutions related to genocide has been offered during Congressman Paulsen’s tenure, yet he has failed to sponsor them :

2017 H.Res.220 – Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding past genocides, and for other purposes.

2017 H.Res.276 – Expressing the sense of the House that more should be done to instill Holocaust education in school curricula around the country.

2017 H.Res.351 – Condemning the violence and persecution in Chechnya.

2015 H.Res.154 — Calling on the President to work toward equitable, constructive, stable, and durable Armenian-Turkish relations based upon the Republic of Turkey’s full acknowledgment of the facts and ongoing consequences of the Armenian Genocide, and a fair, just, and comprehensive international resolution of this crime against humanity.

2013 H.Res.227 — Calling on the President to work toward equitable, constructive, stable, and durable Armenian-Turkish relations based upon the Republic of Turkey’s full acknowledgment of the facts and ongoing consequences of the Armenian Genocide, and a fair, just, and comprehensive international resolution of this crime against humanity.

2011 H.Res.304 — Affirmation of the United States Record on the Armenian Genocide Resolution

2009 H.Res.252 — Affirmation of the United States Record on the Armenian Genocide Resolution

But on February 11, 2016, Congressman Paulsen did join 213 of his colleagues to sponsor H.Con.Res.75 – Expressing the sense of Congress that the atrocities perpetrated by ISIL against religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria include war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

Yet, the gnawing question is : If Congress does enact the legislation, will President Trump actually name people to the task force ?

The answer may be found in the Trump White House handling of the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism (which Congress created via the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004.) The office of the envoy, whose job is to monitor and document anti-Semitism around the world, as well as work with foreign governments to fight it — yet this envoy position has been vacant since Inauguration Day. President Trump cannot formally eliminate it, though he can decline to fill it. On July 1st, the last two staff members are being reassigned.

Further, the Trump Budget seeks a 32 percent decrease in funding for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development in fiscal year 2018 … so if Congressman Paulsen bill does get enacted, his goal of asking “Washington must do more with less” will be set in motion.

So, let’s us thank Congressman Paulsen for sponsoring the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2017 and trust that is a turn in the right direction … and to reject being a cynic presuming that his sponsorship is just for political posturing.

Heck, he could prove the cynics wrong by joining the bipartisan sponsors of H.R.1911 – Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act of 2017 and demand that President Trump fill those jobs.

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