It has taken two long years of grassroots pressure by Christians across the United States, but a bill that will send aid to the Christian victims of the Islamic State is now law.
H.R. 390, the Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act, was signed by President Trump just before the Christmas break.
This victory almost didn’t happen as anti-Trump Senator Bob Corker attempted to hijack the bill for over a year.
“In a few moments, I will sign legislation to assist religious and ethnic groups targeted by ISIS for mass murder and genocide in Syria and Iraq,” said President Trump, adding, “The bill also authorizes U.S. government efforts to help bring preparations and perpetrators of these heinous crimes to justice, and to justice very swiftly.”
“I commend President Trump for signing this important bill providing relief and assistance to communities who desperately need our help,” said Kristina Arriaga, the Vice Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.
“Through this bill we send the message that those responsible for these crimes, including genocide, will not escape justice. I also commend Representatives Chris Smith and Anna Eshoo for their commitment and hard work to craft this legislation and help ensure its passage.”
According to the USCIRF press release, “This bill promotes accountability for crimes committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and provides for the urgent needs of persecuted religious and ethnic communities such as Christians and Yazidis.”
The bill was originally co-sponsored in the U.S. House by Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ).
The bill faced no opposition and was passed unanimously by the House on June 6th of 2017 and sent to the Senate where it was expected to receive similar swift unanimous support.
Unfortunately, Senator Bob Corker threw a monkey wrench into the process.
As chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Sen. Corker used his power to pass an amendment striking 100% of Cong. Chris Smith’s original bill and replacing it with his own bill.
The new bill contained additional language taking the focus off the crimes of the Islamic State and their genocide against Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq and Syria.
Instead, Sen. Corker’s version changed the mission of the investigation the bill would authorize to focus on the supposed crimes of Russia, Syria, and Iran in the Syrian civil war.
The change makes no sense unless it is politically motivated.
The actual Christian victims of the Islamic State are sympathetic to Assad’s secular Syrian government because they are, with the help of Russia, fighting ISIS and liberating Christian hometowns.
After the brutal battle to liberate Aleppo from radical Islamic fighters, which was decried in the West as a war crime, Christians from the area began returning home to rebuild.
Just a few weeks ago, they were openly celebrating Christmas in the streets without fear!
Some have speculated that Sen. Corker changed the bill to try and score political points against President Trump who he has repeatedly criticized on TV and in speeches.
President Trump has held the position in the past that we should be working with Russia to fight ISIS, instead of unnecessarily increasing tensions between our countries.
Senator Rand Paul, who has supported Trump’s efforts towards diplomacy with Russia and other nations in the interest of peace, objected to Sen. Corker’s hijacking of the bill effectively stopping it from moving forward.
As a result, the bill did not move for over a year.
Then, in October, Sen. Corker finally caved to the growing pressure from Christians who supported the original version.
Another amendment was made without objection to restore the original bill which passed the U.S. Senate by unanimous vote.
Having passed the House and Senate, it was finally signed into law by President Trump on December 11th.
Please continue to pray for the Christians of the Middle East, and thank God that, in the end, politics couldn’t stop this much needed legislation.