The Senate’s leader on Tuesday said he plans on returning a Republican COVID-19 relief plan for a vote, after Democrats blocked the bill last month. The $500 billion bill focuses on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), liability protections for businesses, added unemployment benefits, and money for reopening schools. Senators will vote on the bill on Oct. 19, when the full Senate returns to Washington, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement. “We don’t agree with Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi that ‘nothing’ is better than ‘something’ for workers,” he said. “Unless Democrats block this aid for workers, we will have time to pass it before we proceed as planned to the pending Supreme Court nomination.” Pelosi, the leader of the House of Representatives, has suggested in recent weeks that…
“The UN General Assembly once again elected countries with abhorrent human rights records, including China, Russia, and Cuba,” Pompeo said in a Tuesday statement. “These elections only further validate the U.S. decision to withdraw and use other venues and opportunities to protect and promote universal human rights.”
Elections for the 47-seat Human Rights Council were held at the U.N. headquarters in New York City on Tuesday to fill 15 vacant seats distributed among five regional groups: African States, Asia-Pacific States, Eastern European States, Latin American and Caribbean States, and Western European and other States.
The only competition took place among the Asia-Pacific States, where five countries were competing for four vacant spots. The other regional groups each had the same number of candidates as the number of vacant seats. For example, France and the United Kingdom filled the two vacant seats in the regional group of Western Europe and other States.
Pakistan and Uzbekistan each picked up 169 votes, followed by Nepal with 150 votes and China 139, according to a U.N. press briefing. Saudi Arabia came in fifth place with 90 votes.
Other countries that filled the 15 vacant seats included Russia, Bolivia, and Cuba.
All 193 member states of the United Nations can vote in each regional group by secret ballot. Winning countries will begin their three-year term on Jan. 1 next year.
Despite picking up 139 votes, China saw its support at the U.N. drop considerably compared to the last time it won a seat at the council in 2016, when it picked up 180 votes.
Pompeo noted that the United States has sought other avenues to promote human rights, such as a virtual side event during the 75th U.N. General Assembly in September, as well as a landmark event on religious freedom hosted by President Donald Trump last year.
Following the U.S.-hosted virtual event on Sept. 23, over 50 countries signed a joint statement recognizing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), noting that “certain principles are so fundamental as to apply to all human beings, everywhere, at all times.”
The UDHR, proclaimed by the U.N. General Assembly in 1948, is a milestone document, for it stipulates, for the first time, that fundamental human rights should be universally protected.
“The United States’ commitment to human rights consists of far more than just words. Through the State Department’s action, we have punished human rights abusers in Xinjiang, Myanmar [Burma], Iran, and elsewhere,” Pompeo stated.
The U.S. government has sanctioned six Chinese officials and one Chinese Communist Party entity over human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims in China’s far-western region of Xinjiang, where an estimated one million Uyghurs are being detained in internment camps.
China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, at a daily briefing on Oct. 14, called Pompeo’s comments “very ridiculous.” He said the United States should “stop spreading political virus,” and not use “human rights as an excuse to interfere in other countries’ domestic affairs.”
Several U.S. lawmakers have since taken to Twitter to voice their opposition to the election results, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
“#China, #Russia, and #Cuba being elected to the @UN_HRC is a joke when you consider the egregious human rights violations they commit,” Rubio wrote.
The senator added: “This system is broken and it’s a tragedy with the number of urgent human rights challenges globally.”
Hillel Neuer, executive director of Geneva-based NGO UN Watch, called Tuesday “a black day for human rights,” in a tweet.
In a separate tweet, Neuer pointed out that based on Freedom House’s ratings, 51 percent of the Human Rights Council member states were rated “partly free” or “not free,” meaning they “fail to meet the minimal standards of a free democracy.”
That percentage will increase to 60 percent beginning on Jan. 1, 2021, when countries including China take their seats.
Focus News: Pompeo Leads US Criticism of China’s Election to UN Human Rights Council
Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers and fellow Harvard University economist David Cutler argued in an essay on Oct. 12 that the pandemic will end up costing the United States $16 trillion, around four times the toll exacted by the 2007–2009 Great Recession. “Approximately half of this amount is the lost income from the COVID-19-induced recession; the remainder is the economic effects of shorter and less healthy life,” the two economists wrote in a paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, in which they called the outbreak of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus “the greatest threat to prosperity and well-being the U.S. has encountered since the Great Depression.” Estimates by Summers and Cutler as to direct economic losses are consistent with earlier projections by the Congressional Budget…