Republicans are blasting Speaker Nancy Pelosi for blocking an anti-slavery bill to stop promoting Chinese exploitation of its Muslim Uyghur population. The bill passed the House last Wednesday, and Pelosi is being accused of blocking it from being sent to the Senate for a vote there.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) was able to get Pelosi to bring the bill up for a vote only by threatening to delay the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act. Rubio posted a tweet acknowledging the bill’s passage in the House but claiming that “Pelosi is blocking it from being sent to the Senate.”
The bill, titled the Uyghur Anti-Forced Labor Act, has been repeatedly delayed. The bill is designed to stop imports into America of products connected to forced Uyghur labor inside China. Republicans have claimed that the Biden administration and Congressional Democrats have been stonewalling the bill for months because of Biden’s desire to facilitate climate negotiations and other relations with China.
House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) accused Pelosi in a tweet of “dragging her feet” on the bill. He pointed out that it was the only bill out of more than 30 passed by the House not transmitted to the Senate.
Pelosi staffer Drew Hammill told the Washington Free Beacon that the delay in sending the bill to the Senate was not to create obstruction but was due to “procedural issues.” He said that the Speaker’s office “appreciates the theatrics” from Sen. Rubio.
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) also said the delay was procedural. He said that the House is working with Rubio’s office to “reconcile” the bill with a Senate version.
The bill initially passed the Senate unanimously before stalling out in the House in the summer. The bill was later removed from the list of amendments to the NDAA by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) when a group of Democrats objected to leaving the anti-slavery measure attached to the defense bill.
Congressional sources also have detailed objections to the bill being promoted by Biden’s climate envoy John Kerry and several members of the State Department because of the bill’s possible impact on relations with China. The bill, as structured, would ban imports of solar panels from Xinjiang, the province where the forced labor camps are operated.
Josh Rogin with the Washington Post wrote last week that the vote on the bill in the House was a “face-saving maneuver,” and Biden has already told Democrats not to send the bill to his desk.