WASHINGTON—In a speech on the Senate floor today, U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) joined his colleague Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) in imploring Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer to resolve any procedural roadblocks and ensure passage of legislation to prevent goods that are made with slave labor from being sold in the United States. The bipartisan Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act—cosponsored by Senator Romney—previously passed the Senate unanimously and was recently introduced as an amendment to this year’s defense bill by Senator Rubio.
Senator Romney’s remarks can be found below.
I come to the floor to echo the sentiments of my colleague, Senator Marco Rubio.
Our annual national defense bill is being held up because Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer are refusing to allow a vote on a provision—the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act—that prevents Chinese goods made with forced labor—slave labor—from entering the United States. This bill previously passed the Senate on a unanimous vote.
The Chinese Communist Party’s atrocities against its minorities—particularly the Uyghur people—include genocide and crimes against humanity. These are well known.
Uyghur women are forcefully sterilized and impregnated by Han Chinese men. Adults are ripped from their families and are sentenced into concentration camps and carry out slave labor. It is estimated that nearly one million Uyghur people are being treated this way and held in these camps.
There is no question that it should be U.S. policy to hold accountable those responsible for the forced labor of the Uyghurs and ensure that companies, our companies, are monitoring their supply chains and circumstances of workers making products in China to make sure those products that are made by slave labor against the Uyghur people are not brought into this country. That is the feeling of the unanimous vote of the senators, which we already expressed.
Congressional Democratic leadership is claiming that the problem with including this amendment is a technicality, but let’s be clear that what’s really happening here is there are some corporations Democrats don’t want to offend. For example, Democrats want cheap batteries for their so-called “Build Back Better” agenda. And nearly 80% of the rare earths—including materials like lithium, cobalt, and the like—that are used to make those batteries come from China.
Let’s underscore this: When companies and politicians avert their eyes from China’s predations, from China’s slavery, they are effectively paying the cannibals to eat them last. China is coming for them, and it is coming for us.
We have, in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act, the opportunity to strike a blow against China’s slavery. I implore Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer to move past procedural roadblocks and send a clear, convincing message to China and the world at large that goods produced with slave labor are not allowed in United States of America.