Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today after U.S. Senate voted to prohibit giving federal contracts to companies that conduct business in Sudan, and to protect the rights of states and investment firms to divest from companies with connections to the government of Sudan:
“I am proud that the Senate has taken strong action tonight to help stop the genocide in Darfur. I would like to commend Senator Dodd for his hard work to get the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act of 2007 passed. I would also like to congratulate Senator Durbin who was the lead cosponsor of the first legislation on this issue.
“By passing this bill, the Senate is saying clearly to the government of Sudan that the American people do not want to fund genocide. We already have a wide range of sanctions against Sudan but this bill closed an important loophole by targeting pension plans. The legislation would make sure that the money we put away each month for our retirement does not go to fund companies which support the genocidal regime in Sudan.
“The House has already passed similar legislation with an overwhelming, and bipartisan, vote of 418-1. With Senate passage, we will hopefully be able to move quickly to turn this bill into the law of the land.
“As we pass this legislation the crisis in Darfur continues, with nearly 2 million people displaced and an estimated 450,000 people killed. The real hope for the people of Darfur is a strong UN-AU peacekeeping force. But President Bashir is once again keeping that force from moving forward, putting a man indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes on the committee overseeing these peacekeepers. He also continues to put other roadblocks in front of the peacekeepers, who should be in place and operating by January 1st.
“This legislation sends a loud and a clear message to the Sudanese regime that they must stop standing in the way of full implementation of the AU-UN peacekeepers. I hope that President Bashir is listening and that we will see that AU-UN force operational by January first of next year. The U.S. Senate will be watching, the United Nations will be watching, and the eyes of the world are on President Bashir. We all have a moral obligation to end the genocide, stop the violence and relieve the suffering of the people of Darfur.”