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Posts tagged ‘U.S. Senate’

Dalai Lama to Open US Senate Session With Prayer.

The Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, will give the opening prayer on the floor of the U.S. Senate on Thursday, the first time he has done so, reports said.

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, said he and his committee also would host the Dalai Lama on Thursday afternoon. The Tibetan holy man is expected to meet with House leaders as well, The Hill reported.

Senate Chaplain Barry Black usually opens the Senate session with a prayer.

The Dalai Lama, who first visited the United States in 1979, has been in the country for a few weeks, sparking a controversy along the way.

President Barack Obama met with the spiritual leader in the White House two weeks ago — their third talk in recent years, the Washington Post reported.

China, which angrily objected to the meeting, calls the Dalai Lama, who fled to India after a failed uprising in 1959, a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” who seeks to use violent methods to establish an independent Tibet.

The Dalai Lama, 78, says he wants autonomy for Tibet and denies advocating violence.

During the White House meeting, Obama reiterated the U.S. stance against an independent Tibet but encouraged dialogue between the two countries.

“The president commended the Dalai Lama’s commitment to peace and nonviolence and expressed support for the Dalai Lama’s ‘middle way’ approach,” the White House said of the meeting, The Hill reported.

The Dalai Lama has appeared on Capitol Hill before for meetings with congressional leaders, and was awarded Congress’ highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, during a 2007 ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda in an event attended by President George W. Bush.

In 2009, he focused on compassion in an opening prayer for the New York State Senate.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Cathy Burke

Democrats Invite The Dalai Lama To Invoke Pagan ‘Blessing’ Over US Senate.

“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.” Psalm 14:1

HuffPost: The Dalai Lama will step in for Chaplain Barry Black to lead the U.S. Senate’s opening prayer on Thursday, March 6, 2014 according to the Chaplain’s office.

The Director of Communications for Chaplain Black’s office told The Huffington Post that Senator Reid nominated the Tibetan spiritual leader to lead Thursday’s prayer in the place of the chaplain, whose office regularly facilitates prayers by visiting religious leaders.


The Dalai Lama believes that he is a god, and as such recognizes no gods outside of himself. When he prays before the US Senate, he will be giving his blessing as a god, and not asking for God’s blessing on our nation.

The Dalai Lama’s prayer has been pre-approved, the director said, and if it is similar to the one he gave in 2009 to the New York State Senate, he may highlight the need for compassion and an “inner peace of mind.” He will be continuing the Senate’s 207-year tradition of beginning each session with a prayer, a role Chaplain Black has fulfilled since 2003 when he was elected 62nd Chaplain of the United States Senate.

Known for a firm commitment social activism, the 14th Dalai Lama is a controversial figure in China, where his relationship with the U.S. is regularly criticized. On February 21, the Dalai Lama met with President Obama for the third time prompting a reaction from the Chinese Foreign Ministry whose spokesperson called the meeting an “interference in China’s internal affairs.” source – HuffPost

by NTEB News Desk

Rep. Jim Jordan: No Immigration Reform Without Rule of Law.

Immigration reform is impossible for now because the Obama administration isn’t even enforcing current immigration laws, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio says.

“You can’t do immigration when you have an administration that doesn’t respect the rule of law. It’s that simple,” Jordan told George Marlin, guest host of “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV.

“This administration, 11 months ago, when the sequester first kicked in, released 2,238 illegal aliens — eight of them … felons —and they did it because they were trying to prove that the sequester was going to be so bad.”

“You cannot trust this administration. They haven’t enforced the law and now we’re supposed to work with them and actually resolve things? There’s no way you can make that work.”

Story continues below video.

Jordan, a Republican, said that until a new president is elected and the GOP regains control of the Senate, a substantial immigration reform law can’t happen.

“There’s a few things that you should be able to do that we’ve done in the House, but the Senate and the president, they just want to do the comprehensive bill the Senate passed which is just a nonstarter and not what the American people want to see,” Jordan said.

“[Obama] hasn’t enforced the current immigration law, he hasn’t enforced all of Obamacare … The president doesn’t want to follow the law, he wants to do things his way, and that’s tough to have a partnership with someone like that.”

Jordan, who represents the Buckeye State’s Fourth Congressional District, said he wasn’t surprised by the low number of viewers for the president’s State of the Union address.

“It was more of the same. It was big government spending, big government regulation,” he said.

“If more government and more government spending were going to get us out of this economic mess, we’d have been out of it a long time ago because that’s all this administration has done for five years and so a lot of Americans just tuned it out.”

See the “Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV each weekday live by clicking here now.

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Giuliani, Conservatives: Christie OK As Long As No ‘Smoking Gun’.

Image: Giuliani, Conservatives: Christie OK As Long As No 'Smoking Gun'

By Todd Beamon

Conservatives widely commended New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s actions on Thursday in the spiraling bridge-gate scandal, but told Newsmax that any “smoking gun” specifically tying the Republican to the controversial closures last September on the world’s busiest bridge could sink his chances for a White House run in 2016.

“The governor handled it about the best way he could possibly handle it,” former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said. “Holding a press conference — not running away from it — apologizing profusely for the mistakes, taking responsibility as the chief executive for what his people did wrong, but making it clear that he had no advance knowledge that they did anything like this or that he would have wanted them to do this.

“As long as there is no smoking gun, then this becomes just another situation where a chief executive has people working for him that do things that are foolish,” Giuliani said.

Matt Towery, a debate expert and pollster, said the governor’s news conference and dismissal of a top aide linked to the scandal were “very consistent with Chris Christie — his standard operating procedure both as a governor and as a politician.

“Certainly, someone’s head had to roll over that, and he’s had those heads roll.”

However, “it has to be pretty clear that Christie had no knowledge of this,” Towery added. “If he did, and he takes these sort of actions, then that is perceived by the public as just compounding the situation.

“Then, you get into that big word called ‘hypocrisy’ — the one that I’ve found that takes most politicians down.”

The governor put on “an impressive performance,” political analyst and pollster Doug Schoen told Newsmax. “Christie did what he had to do, but there is a big ‘but.’

“This is a guy who’s had a reputation for being arguably above politics, trying to be nonpartisan, calling it as he saw it — and this involves a petty political scandal that goes right to the heart of his credibility as a manager.

“This does not speak well to his ability to lead the government and to inspire confidence in his staff,” Schoen said.

“Christie is handling the scandal in the right way by firing his staff people,” political consultant Dick Morris said. “The country will accept that he had nothing to do with it, as long as there is no trail that leads to Christie knowing about or ordering the lane closures.

“But the burden of proof is on Christie,” Morris cautioned. “He needs to establish that he had nothing to do with it. The U.S. Senate, under Democratic control, will investigate this through a committee. How Christie handles the committee will be the key test.

“If he appears to be stonewalling, he will be in real trouble.”

Sounding contrite and humbled at a news conference at the state capitol in Trenton,Christie apologized for the closings over five days that created massive gridlock on the George Washington Bridge and said he fired the aide in what critics say was a political vendetta.

“I come out here to apologize to the people of New Jersey,” the governor said at the start of what became a two-hour news conference. “I apologize to the people of Fort Lee. And I apologize to the State Legislature.

“I am embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of some of the people on my team.”

Christie announced that he had dismissed the aide, Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly, who sent the email to David Wildstein, the director of interstate capital projects for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, who resigned last month because of the scandal.

“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Kelly wrote. Fort Lee is where the bridge’s toll booths are located.

The gridlock occurred Sept. 9-13, when three of the 12 eastbound toll-booth lanes heading into New York from New Jersey normally dedicated to morning rush-hour traffic were cut one during a traffic study. The other two lanes were used for regular traffic.

The closures have also been linked to delays by emergency responders to at least four medical situations, including one involving a 91-year-old woman who later died at a Fort Lee hospital.

“I terminated her employment because she lied to me,” Christie said on Thursday.

The governor also forced his two-time campaign manager, Bill Stepian, to remove his name from consideration to lead the New Jersey Republican Party. Stepian also will lose a lucrative consulting contract to the Republican Governor’s Association, of which Christie is chairman.

Christie also went to Fort Lee and apologize to Democratic Mayor Mark Sokolich and the city’s residents. Critics have said that the bridge closures were in retaliation for the mayor not supporting Christie’s re-election bid last year.

“Actions have consequences,” Christie said. “I had no knowledge of this issue in its planning and execution. I am stunned by the abject stupidity that was involved here. This was handled in a callous and indifferent way.”

The U.S. Attorney for New Jersey has asked the FBI to help in its investigation into the lane closures. The New Jersey Assembly also is looking into the matter — and Wildstein repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment rights in response to questions at an assembly hearing on Thursday.

Reflecting on Christie’s demeanor at the news conference, Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor and columnist for the National Review, told Newsmax that “it was not only impressive, it was un-Christie-like.

“He can be very gruff with people who ask him questions that he don’t want to answer — and that trait has gotten him in more trouble here.”

When asked in December about the scandal, Christie “dismissed them and gave them the back of the hand,” McCarthy said. “Obviously, it was a much more serious issue than he either believed or led on at the time.”

Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin also noted Christie’s disposition in an interview on “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV.

“Here was a guy who was really baring it all, baring his soul — and he used words like ‘humiliated,’ ’embarrassed,’ ‘feels awful,’ ‘sad,'” Rubin said. “These are not emotions one usually connects with him and unless he is a marvelous actor, that is a compelling picture of remorse.”

Tobe Berkovitz, an associate professor of advertising at Boston University, observed: “It’s never surprising when a politician who’s been put up on a pedestal by the media then gets knocked off by the media. The media has sort of this infatuation with Chris Christie — and he has given them an opening to sort of turn him into a New Jersey piñata.

“He’s got a reputation as this larger-than-life, in-your-face, take-no-BS politician,” he added. “The problem is that, this time, the people who paid for that were commuters — and, quite honestly, people care a lot about their commute.

“That’s not a way to get elected president of the United States.”

Towery expressed concerns as to how quickly the U.S. attorney had become involved.

“I don’t know whether this warrants a U.S. attorney’s investigation or not — but it certainly begs questions,” he told Newsmax.

“The idea that the U.S. attorney is jumping into this a day after they became aware of it — I wonder what in the world justifies the need that quickly. If I were Christie’s camp, I would be asking the same question.”

Towery declined to say that the Obama administration might be involved, but noted: “When you see that Christie is clearly a very strong potential candidate for president, and when you hear of something that quickly, it does raise eyebrows.”

Speaking of the White House, many of the observers contrasted Christie’s candor with the lack thereof coming from President Barack Obama on the many scandals that have engulfed his administration.

“Governor Christie did the right thing and demonstrated what leaders do when actions of the team are unacceptable and wrong,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. “I wish President Obama would be as transparent and open as Governor Christie was today.”

“President Obama and Hillary Clinton have held no press conference on Benghazi and have done nothing like what Chris did here,” Giuliani told Newsmax. “That counts for something.”

And, if Christie’s version of events hold up, the biggest loser could be Clinton, the former Secretary of State who might be the Democratic nominee for the White House, said political analyst Ron Christie.

“I honestly believe the big loser out of all of this is Hillary Rodham Clinton,” Christie, who is not related to the governor, told the Malzberg show. He is CEO of the Christie Strategies consulting firm.

“‘What difference does it make at this point’ [Clinton’s answer during a Benghazi hearing last January] — that is going to be hung around her neck like an albatross if she decides to jump in the 2016 campaign,” he added. “The parallels of Christie couldn’t be drawn any more stark here.”

“The proof is going to be in the pudding,” said Boston University’s Berkovitz. “Is there a smoking text or smoking email that directly shows that he knew what was going on?

“If that happens, game-set-match, it’s over,” he added. “If not, it’s still a long way away to 2016, and this will always be hanging over his head.”

“It can help, it might hurt,” pollster Schoen told Newsmax. “Bottom line, if you’re a big Republican donor, it takes a big leap of faith to sign on now and write a check.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Homosexual and Transgender Employment Bill Threatens Religious Liberty.

Peter Sprigg
Peter Sprigg

In November, the U.S. Senate passed a version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill that creates a special status for sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace.

ENDA unjustly interferes with the liberty of employers in the free market to determine their own standards for employment, based on characteristics that (unlike race or sex) primarily involve voluntary conduct (the choice to engage in homosexual conduct or the choice to present one’s self as the opposite of one’s biological sex).

In addition to this underlying threat to the free market for employment, however, ENDA poses a specific threat to religious liberty as well. The theologically orthodox teaching of both the Christian and Jewish faiths has always been that, in keeping with the teachings of Scripture, sexual relations between persons of the same sex are contrary to the will of God.

While the vast majority of employers would not consider an employee’s sexual orientation relevant, many religious organizations motivated by and proclaiming those faiths will logically seek employees whose conduct is consistent with the moral standards they teach. Such employers include not only churches and synagogues, but also schools, parachurch ministries, religious charities and nonprofits, and even profit-making corporations that sell religious products.

Laws protecting sexual orientation and gender identity at the local and state levels usually contain at least something that passes for a religious exemption, but the scope of those exemptions varies.

In some cases, the exemption has been applied only to clergy but not to other church employees. In other cases, church employees may be exempt, but those at religious nonprofit organizations are not. Or religious nonprofits that primarily proclaim the gospel may be exempted, but those that engage in “secular” activities (such as feeding the poor or educating children) are not.

Even if all religious nonprofits could be exempted, such laws rarely, if ever, exempt profit-making corporations—even though a Christian bookstore or Bible publisher may see its mission as being just as religious as any nonprofit ministry. (Lawsuits over the HHS mandate in Obamacare have shown that profit-making corporations have legitimate concerns about federal mandates that would force them to compromise moral principles.)

Advocates of ENDA argue that its religious exemption is relatively broad. The 1964 Civil Rights Act law exempts religious organizations from the ban on employment discrimination based on religion. ENDA would exempt any organization that qualifies for that exemption from ENDA’s provisions as well.

The exemption in the 1964 act was based on the reasonable grounds that organizations motivated by their faith should be free to give preference in hiring to those who share that faith. There is largely a social consensus that such flexibility in hiring furthers the free exercise of religion already guaranteed by the Constitution.

However, advocates of ENDA are people who fundamentally believe it is never reasonable to make moral distinctions between homosexual relationships and heterosexual ones. This is not a point of consensus—it is precisely the point in dispute. Therefore, it is reasonable to doubt whether ENDA’s advocates—or enforcers—will be generous toward employers that decline to employ people who engage in homosexual conduct.

Even if the rights of all religious employers are fully protected, a threat to religious liberty would remain. This is because there is no exemption in the bill for religious employees. Under ENDA, anyone who expresses the personal moral conviction that homosexual conduct is wrong would be vulnerable (or make their employer vulnerable) to charges of creating a “hostile work environment” for homosexual co-workers. That person would be at risk of being disciplined or even dismissed.

This is no mere hypothetical—there have been numerous examples already. Allstate insurance fired attorney Matt Barber (now with Liberty University Law School) for online writings against the homosexual agenda done on his own time. Gallaudet University suspended administrator Angela McCaskill merely for signing a petition to allow a referendum in Maryland on the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples. Fox Sports Southwest recently fired Craig James as a college football commentator after only one appearance—for positions he took while running for the U.S. Senate a year and a half earlier. This is why I have contended that ENDA would drive Christians “into the closet” even as it brings homosexual and transgender individuals out.

Conservatives are sometimes accused of trying to legislate morality. In this case, however, it is ENDA that seeks to legislate morality at the federal level—but it is the morality (or immorality) of the sexual revolution, which directly contradicts the sexual ethics of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Any member of Congress seeking to protect religious liberty should reject ENDA.


Peter Sprigg is senior fellow for policy studies at Family Research Council. This article appeared inThe Christian Post on Friday.

Christie: October Special Election for Lautenberg Senate Seat.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday called a special election for October to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a decision seen as critical to the balance of power in the U.S. Congress and to Christie’s own political aspirations.

Lautenberg, a liberal Democratic voice in the U.S. Senate since 1982, died on Monday at age 89 of complications from viral pneumonia.

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Any move by Christie on how to handle the empty seat was coming under close scrutiny, as the outspoken New Jersey Republican is widely seen as interested in running for his party’s presidential nomination in 2016.

Christie could have chosen to fill the seat through 2014, when Lautenberg’s term was set to expire, most likely with a fellow Republican.

Instead he said a special election will be held on Oct. 16, preceded by a primary election on Aug. 13 to pick the Republican and Democratic nominees.

Like Christie, a blunt-talking politician who at times has alienated his own party as much as his Democratic opponents, the decision might leave both sides less than pleased.

Some Democrats might have liked to see Christie hold the special election on the same day as the Nov. 5 general election, when Christie is up for reelection, as that might lure more Democrats to the polls. Many Republican could have preferred he fill the seat with a Republican through 2014.

“I’m not going to play politics with this,” Christie, who is seeking re-election as governor this November, told a news conference at his office in Trenton, N.J. “I want to have an elected senator as soon as possible.”

Christie said he would pick someone within the week to fill the vacant seat until the Oct. 16 special election.

The state of New Jersey will bear the cost of the primary and special election, Christie said.

Opponents promptly took issue with his decision to hold the special election just three weeks ahead of the general election.

Political observers have said Christie might want to avoid having the special election on the day of the general election to avoid a high Democratic turnout.

As a potential presidential contender, Christie would want to present himself to the nation with the strongest possible backing in his home state, some observers say.

Among those likely interested in succeeding Lautenberg is Newark Mayor Cory Booker. A potential run by Booker, a popular black rising star in the Democratic Party, could bring out a strong minority voter turnout.

New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney, a Democrat, said he was pleased that Christie did not opt to fill the vacant seat through 2014 but said in a statement: “That being said, it certainly would have been more rational to hold the election in November instead of October.”

In a more strongly worded statement, Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver said she was disappointed that Christie “has chosen to be so transparently political and waste taxpayer money” on a special October election.

“The November general election date is what’s best for taxpayers and voter turn-out … but Gov. Christie has chosen to put partisan politics and his self-interest first,” she said.

In Washington, Democrats and Republicans anxiously watched Christie’s announcement, knowing its likely impact on the balance of power in the Senate, now held by Democrats, 54-45, with one vacancy.

“I’m happy with what he’s done,” said Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, whose party will likely get the seat back in the October election. “I think he did the right thing.”

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said he accepted Christie’s decision, although it will likely prevent his party from holding the seat through 2014.

“I’m sure that the governor exercised whatever option he had in the best interest of his state,” McConnell said. “I won’t question the path that he has chosen.”

Christie said that under New Jersey law, he could have named someone to fill the remainder of Launtenberg’s term through 2014, but he chose not to do so.

“I firmly believe that the decisions that need to be made in Washington are too great to be determined by an appointee for a period of 18 months,” he said.

There had been speculation that Christie might appoint a Republican who would help boost his standing in his party or he could select someone willing to cooperate with Obama and broaden his bipartisan appeal.

Christie and Obama worked amicably together during the 2012 White House race when Obama helped the governor get federal aid after Superstorm Sandy slammed into New Jersey.

Christie said the primary process will give voters a choice.

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“I will not permit the insiders and a few party elites to determine who the nominee of the Republican Party and the Democratic Party will be,” he said. “A primary election is necessary. The people must choose.”

The New Jersey Office of Legislative Services has estimated that holding a primary and a special election to fill the U.S. Senate vacancy would cost approximately $11.9 million for each election, according to a spokesman for state Assembly Democrats.
© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Internet Sales Tax Could Cripple Financial Services, Trade Group Warns.

A U.S. Senate bill that would let states impose sales tax on purchases from out-of-state sellers could lead to state-level financial transaction taxes, a Wall Street trade association warned.

“We believe the impact of this legislation on trade in services has not been adequately explored by Congress,” said Ken Bentsen, acting president and chief executive officer of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, said in a statement that will be released Monday.

“The bill could lead to unexpected costs being passed on to consumers of financial services, including sales taxes on services or state-level stock transaction taxes.”

Those items typically aren’t taxed now. Under the bill, states could expand their sales tax bases. They would have to apply the same tax to intra-state transactions.

The bill, S. 743, will have its first procedural vote Monday. It is backed by retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and opposed by direct marketers and anti-tax groups. Senators supported the concept of the legislation in a nonbinding 75-24 vote last month.

© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

Russia restricts U.S. meat imports, denies move is political.

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Meat imports to Russia from producers using ractopamine must be tested and certified free of the feed additive, the country’s veterinary regulator said, with Moscow‘s health watchdog denying the requirement is a political retaliation.

The move, announced a day after the U.S. Senate approved a bill to expand trade between Washington and Moscow that also sought to punish Russian human rights violators, could jeopardize North American meat beef and pork suppliers.

It would potentially make the United States, which exports more than $500 million a year worth of beef and pork to Russia, significantly less competitive, giving advantage to Chinese and European Union meat producers, where ractopamine is banned.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation said the U.S. Department of Agriculture had no testing and certification program in place for ractopamine.

Russia’s plant and health regulator, Rosselkhoznadzor, said that as of Friday it would allow for an unidentified transition period during which in the absence of a needed certification, Russia will test each shipment itself.

“During this period the veterinary service of the suppliers have to create a system of laboratory testing of products certifying the absence of ractopamine,” the regulator said in a statement posted late Friday on its website.

Analysts said the Russian move was linked to the U.S. Senate’s passage of the “Magnitsky Act” as part of a broad trade bill, which drew an angry response from Russia where officials called it “absurd.”

Gennady Onishchenko, Russia’s chief health inspector and head of the state consumer protection agency Rospotrebnadzor, denied the requirement of testing and certifying meat imports for ractopamine was retaliatory.

“In Russia, (ractopamine) is not included in the register of products approved for use,” Onishchenko told the news agency Interfax on Saturday.

“We can only regret that American Federation analysts on meat exports lacked even a tiny bit of imagination to classify the 27 countries of the European Union, China and all other 167 countries that have banned the use of this product as opponents of the ‘Magnitsky Act’ adopted by the U.S. Senate.”

Ractopamine is used as a feed additive to make meat leaner, but countries such as China have banned its use despite scientific evidence that it is safe. The United Nations has agreed on acceptable levels of the drug.

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly; editing by James Jukwey)



Open Doors Urges Religious Freedom Bill Passage.

persecuted believer
A Christian girl who was bruised and burnt during the Orissa violence in August 2008. This girl was injured with burns bruises during anti Christian violence by Hindu nationalists. It occured when a bomb was thrown into her house by extremists. (All India Christian Council)

Open Doors USA has launched a new advocacy campaign to encourage the U.S. Senate to pass a bill to appoint a religious freedom envoy in the Near East and South Central Asia.

Last year Open Doors USA supported a bill in the House called H.R. 440, which would require the Obama administration to appoint a Special Envoy for Religious Minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia. H.R. 440 was passed by the House last year. This was partially due to the advocacy campaign Open Doors launched, encouraging concerned citizens to contact their U.S. representative, asking him or her to vote for the bill.

Near East countries include Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and also the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

South Central Asian countries include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

All of the countries are on the Open Doors 2012 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians, with the exception of Israel, Lebanon and Nepal. The Special Envoy would be appointed by the president and report to the president and Secretary of State.

A Senate companion bill called S. 1245 was introduced last year, but it still has not been brought to a vote. Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) has placed a hold on the bill, preventing it from moving forward. If S. 1245 is not passed in this session of Congress and signed into law, the process will have to be started all over next year in the new session of Congress.

“This important bill won’t be moved to a vote unless enough people concerned with the persecution of religious minorities are willing to speak out and ask their senators to take action,” says Open Doors USA advocacy director Lindsay Vessey. “The Special Envoy would address economic and security concerns of these minority faith groups, which is especially needed in a country like Iraq, where large numbers of Christians and other faith groups have been threatened, forced to flee their homeland and killed. “With a third of the U.S. Senate facing election votes in the fall, it is a great time to share with your elected officials about the issues most important to you. Please take just a few minutes to join with us in this critical endeavor.”

Open Doors is encouraging constituents to contact their U.S. senators. If enough senators support S. 1245, they will create much more pressure on Sen. Webb to release his hold and allow the bill to move to a vote.

The Open Doors Advocacy website has a sample letter available for constituents to send to their senators at


By Jennifer LeClaire

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