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senate Bill S. Res. 80

Should the Senate Establish a Human Rights Commission to Honor Sen. John McCain’s Legacy?

Argument in favor

The late Sen. John McCain spent his 35-year long Senate career defending human rights around the world. Formalizing the Senate Human Rights Caucus into a commission is a fitting way to honor that legacy.

Argument opposed

There are already efforts underway to establish the John S. McCain III Human Rights Commission through an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) reauthorization that’s slated for debate later this month, so this resolution isn’t needed.

simple resolution Progress


  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Rules and Administration
    IntroducedFebruary 27th, 2019

What is Senate Bill S. Res. 80?

This Senate resolution would establish the John S. McCain III Human Rights Commission to 1) serve as a forum for bipartisan discussion of international human rights issues and promotion of internationally-recognized human rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; 2) raise awareness of international human rights violations through regular briefings and hearings; and 3) collaborate with the executive branch, human rights entities and NGOs to promote human rights initiatives at the Senate. In effect, this would formalize the Senate Human Rights Caucus as a commission.

Any Senator could become a commissioner by submitting a written statement to that effect to the Commission. The Commission would be led by two co-chairs: one assigned by the Senate majority leader and the other assigned by the Senate minority leader. Each co-chair’s term would end on the last day of the Congress during which they’re appointed as a co-chair, unless they leave the Senate, leave the Commission, resign from the co-chair position, or are removed from the position.

As a simple resolution, this legislation is non-binding and wouldn’t advance beyond the Senate if passed.

Impact

Senate; Senators; Senate Human Rights Caucus; and Sen. John McCain.

Cost of Senate Bill S. Res. 80

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSen. Chris Coons (D-DE) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to establish a human rights commission in honor of the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ):

“Senator McCain was a remarkable man who used his role in the Senate to advocate for human rights and to stand up for people around the world who were denied basic freedoms. He embodied our country’s values and understood the critical role of the United States in promoting human rights across the globe. I am hopeful that we can advance this legislation and honor Senator McCain’s legacy by establishing a bipartisan commission here in the Senate that is dedicated to raising awareness about human rights abuses and promoting human liberty around the world.”

When he introduced this resolution in the previous Congress, Sen. Coons added that this commission would “carry on John McCain's legacy of shining a light on human rights abuses across the world and building bipartisan coalitions to take action."

Original cosponsor Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) adds:

“Our late friend and colleague John McCain understood that promoting and defending human rights was a cornerstone of America’s foreign policy and an inherent way of advancing American values, from leading the passage of the Magnitsky Act to sanctioning authoritarian regimes that hold contempt for human life. It’s an honor to join Senator Coons in proposing the establishment of the McCain Human Rights Commission, which will carry on John McCain’s legacy of shining a light on human rights abuses across the world and building bipartisan coalitions to take action.”

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), a member of the Senate Human Rights Caucus, announced her support for this resolution in a written statement:

“John McCain was an Arizona hero and a champion for human rights across the globe. He fiercely promoted the dignity and rights of all people, and his leadership still profoundly inspires me. I am honored to support a human rights commission named for John McCain as a fitting tribute to his legacy."

Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ), who now holds Sen. McCain’s former seat, has not made a public statement on this resolution but introduced other legislation to name a conservation corps for public lands after McCain.

Sen. McCain’s widow, Cindy McCain, has expressed her support for the proposed commission. In a tweet upon this resoution’s reintroduction in the current Congress, she tweeted, “Grateful to @ChrisCoons & @SenThomTillis, along w/ @SenJeffMerkley, @SenMarkey, @marcorubio & @SenatorSinema, for re-introducing leg. to establish the John McCain Human Rights Commission. The U.S. must lead on human rights. What a wonderful way to honor my husband’s legacy.”

This resolution has 15 bipartisan cosponsors, including nine Democrats and six Republicans, in the 116th Congress. In the 115th Congress, it had five bipartisan cosponsors, including three Republicans and two Democrats, and didn’t see committee action.

In addition to this resolution, Sens. Coons and Tillis are also attempting to attach legislation creating the John S. McCain III Human Rights Commission to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) reauthorization that’s slated for debate in late June.


Of NoteFormer Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) served in Congress for 35 years before passing away in August 2018 after a 13-month fight against gliobastoma. Sen. McCain was elected to the Senate six times, where he chaired the Armed Services Committee. During his Senate career, Sen. McCain — whose views on human rights were shaped by his five-plus years as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War — was committed to exposing human rights abuses around the world and promoting democracy.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: dcblog via Flickr / Creative Commons)

AKA

A resolution establishing the John S. McCain III Human Rights Commission.

Official Title

A resolution establishing the John S. McCain III Human Rights Commission.