NOV 14 2019
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Chairman Jim Risch (R-ID) initiated a process for the Senate to quickly pass their Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act (S. 1838). The process, known as the Hotline, allows for Senate business to be conducted by unanimous consent. The amended bipartisan bill was passed unanimously by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in September.
“The world witnesses the people of Hong Kong standing up every day to defend their long-cherished freedoms against an increasingly aggressive Beijing and Hong Kong government. Their cries have been met with violence, and young Hong Kong lives have tragically been lost,” Rubio said. “Now more than ever, the United States must send a clear message to Beijing that the free world stands with Hong Kongers in their struggle. I thank Leaders McConnell and Schumer for their support, as well as Chairman Risch, Ranking Member Menendez, and Senator Cardin for their strong partnership on this legislation and look forward to its enactment.”
“The world needs to see that the United States will stand up and tell the Chinese Communist Party that what they are doing to the people of Hong Kong is wrong,” Risch said. “After more than two decades of broken promises, it is time to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for its erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy. The U.S. stands with the people of Hong Kong, and I look forward to continuing to work with Senate leadership and my colleagues across the aisle to move this bill swiftly.”
Building on the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992 authored by Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), this amended bipartisan bill would require the Secretary of State to certify, no less than annually, whether Hong Kong continues to warrant special treatment under U.S. law based on the autonomy of its government decision-making related to human rights, law enforcement and extradition requests, universal suffrage, judicial independence, police and security functions, export controls, and sanctions enforcement. The legislation would also mandate the President to impose sanctions against foreign persons determined to be responsible for extrajudicial rendition, arbitrary detention, torture, or forced confession of people in Hong Kong, or other gross violations of human rights in Hong Kong. In addition, the bill would task the Executive Branch to develop a strategy to protect American citizens and others in Hong Kong from rendition or abduction to China, and to report annually to Congress on violations of U.S. export controls laws and United Nations sanctions occurring in Hong Kong.
Co-sponsors include Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jim Risch (R-ID), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Angus S. King, Jr. (I-ME), Ed Markey (D-MA), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Susan Collins (R-ME), Chris Coons (D-DE), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), John Cornyn (R-TX), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Mark Warner (D-VA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Todd Young (R-IN), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Mitt Romney (R-UT), James Inhofe (R-OK), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Rick Scott (R-FL), Chris Murphy (D-CT), John Hoeven (R-ND), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bob Casey (D-PA), Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jack Reed (D-RI) and James Lankford (R-OK).
The House passed similar legislation that was introduced by U.S. Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Chris Smith (R-NJ). Text of the SFRC-passed legislation can be found here.
Please click here to see the original press release
What is “hotline” procedure?
A strategic procedure carried out by Leadership and their Cloakrooms. There are a few situations in which Senate Leadership might hotline a bill– the most common is that they want to move it quickly. In that case a member of Leadership asks their Cloakroom to leave an outgoing message for the Senate that the measure will be called up to pass without a vote (by Unanimous Consent). If a single Senator objects to the bill they can phone the Cloakroom clerk, register their objection, and the bill is stopped. Sometimes the Majority leader doesn’t really expect a bill to pass by Unanimous Consent but will hotline it anyway– like a trial balloon to measure a bill’s support.