Immediate Push On The Code Of Conduct
Action in the House Fast Approaching
The Code of Conduct on Arms Transfers Act would prohibit U.S. arms exports to foreign governments that are undemocratic, abusive of their citizens' human rights, are engaged in acts of armed aggression, or do not participate in the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms. Reps. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) passed the Code of Conduct as part of the fiscal year 1998 State Department Authorization Act last June. The House and Senate Republican leadership, however, stripped the Code from the bill during recent conference committee negotiations in March. This act has spurred the House champions to redouble their efforts for advancing the Code of Conduct during the remainder of 1998.
The fiscal year 1999 Foreign Operations Appropriations Act provides the best opportunity for Reps. McKinney and Rohrabacher to pass the Code into law this year. Mobilization of local support is essential for this strategy to succeed, and the time line for action is very short. We need to educate the members and staff of the House Foreign Operations Subcommittee (of the Appropriations Committee) about the Code and urge them to support its inclusion in the bill. The deadline for this action is early June, when the subcommittee will likely finish its work on the bill.
Action: Grassroots and concerned citizens who are constituents of the 13 Subcommittee members should try to meet with the Representative while he or she is in the district for the Memorial Day recess. The message to deliver is "Support the Code of Conduct in the Foreign Operations Appropriations Act." You should remind them that the full House passed the Code in the State Department authorizing bill last year, demonstrating that it is the will of the House that this measure be passed into law. If a meeting is not possible, write or phone your Representative with the same message.
Publicity is crucial. Send a "letter to the editor" or an op-ed on the Code of Conduct to your local paper. The "news peg" could be President Clinton's recent apology while in Africa about America's history of arming dictators on that continent. Talk about the role that your local Member of Congress can play in preventing a repeat of this policy by supporting passage of the Code of Conduct. Place a call to a talk radio show or other media outlets in the area. Get the word out and educate and persuade your Representative.
House Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee
(*Voted for the Code in 1995; x=Voted against the Code in 1995; Republicans in roman; Democrats in italics)
Reps. McKinney and Rohrabacher have also pledged to re-introduce the Code as a stand alone bill this year if the appropriations strategy outlined above stalls. All grassroots activists and organizations, please focus your advocacy and media work on local Representatives, urging them to become an original cosponsor of the Code of Conduct on Arms Transfers Act of 1998. They can join this bill by contacting Ada Loo of Rep. McKinney's staff at 202/225-1605.
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