By Bill Parry
In what is likely his final piece of legislation passed during a 20-year career on Capitol Hill, outgoing Queens Congressman Joe Crowley’s bill to prevent genocide passed final votes in the Senate and the House of Representatives last week.
The Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act aims to strengthen America’s global leadership in preventing, mitigating, and responding to genocide and human rights atrocities wherever they occur, according to Crowley.
Crowley introduced the bill in June 2017 with bipartisan support and named the measure in honor of Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, author, Nobel Laureate, and inspiring spokesman for humanity, The bill is expected to be signed into law by President Trump.
“Eliminating genocide and similar atrocities throughout the world is a core moral and national security responsibility the United States government must constantly pursue. The Elie Wiesel Act will serve as an important tool in that effort by helping the U.S. identify the signs of potential genocide and work to end the violence,” Crowley said. “I’m grateful for the work of Representative Ann Wagner and our Senate colleagues to ensure this legislation passed in the 115th Congress.”
Wagner, a Republican from Missouri, introduced the legislation with Crowley in the House.
The act ensures that the official policy of the United States deems the prevention of genocide and other crimes a matter of national security interest. It would also establish an interagency Atrocities Prevention Board and require specialized training for Foreign Service Officers who will be deployed to a country experiencing or at risk of mass atrocities
“We are haunted by repeated failures and missed opportunities to end global tragedies before they begin,” Wagner said. “There is more that the U.S. can and must do to help vulnerable communities and persecuted people around the world. Good intentions and platitudes like ‘Never Again’ have not prevented the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians at the hands of the Assad regime, the genocide of Rohingya in Burma, or the brutalities against Muslim Bosniaks.”
The issue is especially important to Crowley given his long-standing work to end genocide throughout the world, most recently in Burma. Crowley leaves the House on Jan. 3 after his upset loss to Democratic primary challenger Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in June.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr