The rally asked Speaker Hastert why he has taken the unusual step of intervening in a bill that has the unanimous support of the International Relations Committee
|WASHINGTON ““ Hundreds of Ethiopian-Americans, Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia rallied on Capitol to show their support for a bill called “The Ethiopia Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 5680). In an unusual act, the Speaker of the U.S. House, Dennis Hastert has intervened to prevent the bill from going to the House floor for a final vote.|
|H.R. 5680 is intended to help Ethiopia build strong democratic institutions, establish mechanisms for the protection of human rights and civil liberties, strengthen the U.S-Ethiopian partnership in the war against terrorism and release of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.
H.R. 5680, authored by New Jersey Congressmen Christopher Smith [R] and Donald Payne [D], passed unanimously in the House International Relations Committee this past June, but was unable to proceed to the floor after being blocked by Speaker Hastert. Ethiopian-Americans across the Unites States are dismayed and surprised that Speaker Hastert has decided to thwart freedom, democracy and human rights in their homeland. The bill is co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of more than 25 members of Congress.
The rally, organized by concerned Ethiopian Americans in Washington, D.C., was held on Capitol Hill West Front from 9:00 a.m. till noon on Thursday, September 28, 2006.
The rally asked Speaker Hastert why he has taken the unusual step of intervening in a bill that has the unanimous support of the International Relations Committee and authored and supported by global champions of human rights such as congressmen Chris Smith and Tom Lantos, and the former Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and Africa expert Donald Payne. Despite hundreds of telephone calls and in person visits, Speaker Hastert and his office have offered no explanations for his unusual actions in preventing H.R. 5680 from getting to the floor.
The rally was addressed by Congressman Mike Honda, Chairman of the Ethiopia Caucus in the House of Representatives; Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, a cosponsor of the Bill; and Mr. Gregory Simpkins, Professional Staff Member of the Subcommittee on Africa.