The State Department objects as well. Must not offend the Muslims, even by pointing out the human rights atrocities they commit in the name of Islam.
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) ripped into Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) on Thursday for holding up legislation to protect religious minorities that has bipartisan support.
Wolf's bill to create a special envoy to promote religious freedom of religious minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia despite the State Department's objection sailed through the House on a 402-20 vote one year ago and has been lingering in the Senate since January. After hitting an impasse with Webb, the co-chairman of the bipartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission publicly castigated him by publicly sharing a letter he'd sent to the senator Wednesday night.
“I learned several months ago that you had a hold on the legislation, and were blocking it from moving forward. I cannot understand why. More importantly, I would venture that the Coptic Christians, Baha’is, Chaldo-Assyrians, Ahmadis, small remaining Jewish population and countless other religious minorities throughout the Middle East and South Central Asia who face daily persecution, hardship, violence, instability and even death would be hard-pressed to see your objection to this straight-forward, bipartisan legislation,” Wolf wrote in the letter.
“Will a special envoy guarantee these communities’ survival – and even flourishing – in the lands they have inhabited for centuries? I do not know. But I am certain, that to do nothing is not an option – lest on this administration’s and this Congress’ watch we witness a Middle East emptied of ancient faith communities, foremost among them the beleaguered Christian community.”
The bill also has bipartisan [support] in the Senate, where it was introduced by Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.). Webb, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's panel on East Asia and Pacific Affairs, however believes that legislation opposed by the State Department has no business clearing the Senate unanimously without so much as a committee hearing in the upper chamber.
“After considering the legislation, Senator Webb asked the State Department for its analysis,” Webb spokesman Will Jenkins said in a statement. “In [its] position paper, the State Department explains why it believes a new special envoy position would be 'unnecessary, duplicative, and likely counterproductive'.”
The analysis by the department's office of legislative affairs concludes that Wolf's bill “infringes on the Secretary’s flexibility to make appropriate staffing decisions” and “is unnecessary as it duplicates a number of ongoing activities at the Department being managed at the highest levels.”...