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Congressional Burma Caucus Launched 


International Campaign for the Rohingya 

Congressional Burma Caucus Launched 


Last week, in a historic move, members of the House of Representatives launched the first-ever bipartisan Congressional Burma Caucus.Republican Bill Huizenga of Michigan and Democrat Betty McCollum of Minnesota announced that they will co-chair the caucus, signaling an increasing commitment by Congress to support democracy and human rights in Myanmar. 


The new caucus aims to enhance awareness of Myanmar within the U.S. Congress and Administration, signaling a united front against military rule in Myanmar. The caucus will join advocates calling on the Biden administration to provide increased support to democratic forces in Myanmar and to impose further targeted and coordinated sanctions on the military junta. 


Last year, Congress passed the BURMA Act, enabling the U.S. government to provide non-lethal support to Myanmar’s democratic forces and ethnic resistance organizations. Now, there is a push for the U.S. Administration to create an advisory group to make recommendations regarding the approximately $1 billion in Myanmar assets frozen by the U.S. government post-coup and appoint a dedicated U.S. Special Envoy for Myanmar to best coordinate U.S. policy and action. 


Last Wednesday, Washington announced new sanctions targeting companies and individuals connected to the military, focusing on disrupting the fuel supply for the Myanmar military’s aerial bombings that have frequently targeted civilians. But action by the U.S. and the international community still remains short of the measures needed to cut off the junta from the revenues, weapons, and jet fuel that it needs to stay in power. 

The launch of the Congressional Burma Caucus is not just timely; it is crucial in ensuring that U.S. policy towards Myanmar remains principled, proactive, and effective. This week, would you contact your Members of Congress to join the new Congressional Burma Caucus and take effective action? 



We are pushing Congress to pass two bipartisan resolutions, one in the House of Representatives (H.Res.86) and the other in the Senate (S.Res.20). Passage of these resolutions would put more Congressional pressure on the Biden Administration to impose further sanctions on the military junta and provide more support to the democracy movement. 


Where are these resolutions now? Having passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), S.Res.20 is waiting on Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer to schedule a floor vote. H.Res.86 needs the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) Chair, Rep. Mike McCaul (R, TX) to schedule the resolution for markup by HFAC. 


To build more support for the passage of these resolutions, let's make sure our Members of Congress are signed up as co-sponsors. 



As Congress prepares the Fiscal Year 2024 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS) appropriations budget, we are urging that Congress appropriate sufficient money to implement the BURMA Act, while continuing essential assistance in the face of the ongoing political and humanitarian crisis in Burma. 


At present, the House of Representatives and the Senate have have each produced their own version of the appropriations bill. The House version would defund programs that in the past have been a source of assistance for Burma. By contrast to the House version, the Senate version provides provides more funding while also drawing on the BURMA Act to require technical and material assistance to prevent atrocities, protect civilians, investigate human rights violations, and aid Myanmar military deserters and political prisoners. 

Reconciling the two versions of the bill is the job of the "Big Four" chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committee: Sens. Patty Murray (D, WA) and Susan Collins (R, ME) and Rep. Kay Granger (R, TX) and Rose DeLauro (D, CT). Today, take the action above to tell your Members of Congress in turn to tell the Big Four appropriators to adopt the Senate language in the reconciled SFOPS bill. 


Would you like to meet your Members of Congress regarding Myanmar? 


We're seeking one or more people in each state and House district. We would work with you to set up a Zoom or in-person meeting with the staff of your House Member or senators. We'd also prepare you beforehand with talking points. The goal is to let you - voters from the district - lobby your Members of Congress effectively. 


We have been impressed at how many people have already contacted us to meet their Members of Congress. Nothing has more impact on Congress than the voice of voters from the district. If you wish to organize or just participate in a meeting with staffers of your Members of Congress, just email us at info@newmyanmar.org 


If you don't have the time to meet with your Members of Congress, please follow up your message with phone calls and emails to the staff of your U.S. senators and representative. 

We have a new resource to make this easier for you. We're continually updating our online listing of key staff of every member of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. 


 

If you have extra time, please make a phone call and follow up email to the staff of your U.S. senators and representative. Just follow the steps below! Sometimes just one direct email or a phone call from you can make the difference. 

 

Follow up action #1: send a direct email 

 

 

You may wish to use a succinct and direct subject line such as: "Support full funding for Burma related programs for Fiscal Year 2024" 

 

Start your message with a mention of where you live in the state. Feel free to include a sentence or two on why you care about human rights and Myanmar in particular. Please use or adapt the following text in your email. Please blind copy (bcc) us on your email at info@newmyanmar.org. 


I ask that you support full funding for Burma related programs in the Fiscal Year 2024 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS) appropriations bill. 


At present, the House of Representatives and the Senate have have each produced their own version of the FY24 SFOPS appropriations bill. The House version would defund programs that in the past have been a source of assistance for Burma. By contrast to the House version, the Senate version provides provides more funding while also drawing on the BURMA Act to require technical and material assistance to prevent atrocities, protect civilians, investigate human rights violations, and aid Myanmar military deserters and political prisoners. As a result, I urge you to help ensure that the Senate version of the FY24 SFOPS appropriations bill regarding Burma-related programs takes precedence over the House version. 


Please write back and tell me if you support full funding for Burma related programs in the Fiscal Year 2024 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS) appropriations bill. Thank you. 

 

Follow up action #2: make a phone call 

  • When you reach their office, ask to be connected directly to the staffer, either in person on their voicemail. 

  • Simply tell the staffer - in person or on their voicemail - that you want your senator or representative to support full funding for Burma related programs in the Fiscal Year 2024 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations bill. 

  • Leave your name, number, and city of residence to indicate that you live in the state. 


Just one meeting, email, or phone call from a constituent can make a difference. Your Members of Congress need to know that you want Congress to act. The people of Myanmar can't wait any longer. 


Thank so much for your time and your support. 

Simon Billenness, Executive Director 


For the International Campaign for the Rohingya: Debbie Stothard, Simran Stuelpnagel, Alyson Chadwick, and Lucky Karim. 


For More Information 

"New Congressional Burma Caucus Signals Increased U.S. Focus on Myanmar," by Kristiana Kuqi and Simon Billenness, Mizzima, 7 February 2024 

"US lawmakers to press for humanitarian action on Myanmar," by Simon Lewis, Reuters, 1 February 2024 

Justice For Myanmar works incognito inside Myanmar to research the Myanmar military's business empire and exposes its domestic and foreign business partners 

 

 

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