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Occurrences in the Congressional Record

Entry Title Date
The Future Of U.S.-Zimbabwe Relations June 12, 2015
Christopher Smith, R-NJ
"Mr. Speaker, Zimbabwe is a country the size of the state of Montana, with a population of nearly 14 million people. However, its mineral wealth gives it an outsized importance. The southern African nation is the world’s third largest source of platinum group metals and has significant reserves of nickel, gold, chromium and dozens of other metals and minerals. Significant diamond reserves were discovered in 2006. Currently, about 40 percent of the country’s foreign exchange is earned from the export of these metals and minerals. It was the abundance of such mineral resources, and their exploitation, which has driven the relationship between the West and Zimbabwe. Since its colonization by Cecil Rhodes’ British South Africa Company in 1889 on behalf of Great Britain, the area once known as Southern Rhodesia has experienced a tumultuous history. The white minority gained self-governance in 1922, and a 1930 Land Apportionment Act restricted black access to land, making many Africans laborers and not land owners. In 1964, the white minority government unsuccessfully sought independence from Great Britain, and then unilaterally declared independence a year later under white rule. This move sparked international outrage and economic sanctions, and that regime was never widely recognized by the international community, though the support of white-ruled South Africa enabled the government to limp along. Meanwhile, black opposition to minority rule, which began in the 1930s, erupted into a guerilla war in 1972. Attempts to end the conflict diplomatically failed until the 1979 talks brokered by Great Britain resulted in British-supervised independence elections. The winner of those elections was Robert Mugabe, leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union, or ZANU, who at age 91 continues to rule this country, in large part through intimidation and manipulation of elections. As a hero of the independence and majority rule movements, Mugabe has enjoyed the support of many other African leaders, who have considered him an honored elder and have generally declined to join in international efforts to sanction his government. This has placed the United States in an awkward position, with limited African support for political and economic reforms in Zimbabwe. Although many observers have credited the Mugabe government with productive management until fairly recent years, there were political problems from the beginning of his rule. For example, Mugabe fired fellow independence leader Joshua Nkomo in 1982 and then launched a campaign to suppress what his government called a rebellion by pro-Nkomo forces. The Mugabe regime has been accused of killing thousands of ethnic Ndebele citizens over the next few years to end the supposed rebellion, assisted by military advisors from East Germany and North Korea. Once one of the leading industrial nations in Africa, Zimbabwe began a long economic downward spiral in the late 1990s. Squatters, with the support of the Zimbabwe government, seized white farms they claimed had been stolen by white settlers in the past. Despite government assurances, these farms were not transferred to black farm workers, but rather to cronies of the Mugabe government who lacked agricultural experience. Both whites and blacks in Zimbabwe acknowledged that the land policies had been unfair, but the manner of addressing this problem led to serious economic problems for the country. Agricultural production fell, and the manufacturing sector, heavily tied to agriculture, also diminished. Efforts to squeeze currency for shrinking national reserves from businesses, coupled with the disastrous requirement that businesses use the fictitious exchange rate, caused retailers to lose money with each sale. The effort to close the many vendors who supplied tourists with souvenirs and citizens with necessary household items was yet another milestone in Zimbabwe’s economic collapse. By 2006, year-on-year inflation exceeded 1,000 percent. Devaluation of the currency and the subsequent use of foreign currency are credited with eventually preventing a complete economic collapse. Zimbabwe and the United States have had a tempestuous relationship since that southern African country emerged from white minority rule. Part of the problem has been resentment by Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and his closest advisers against the United States for not supporting their liberation movement, the backdrop to which was the geopolitical conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States. Another part of the problem has been the justifiable public criticism of repressive political policies by the Mugabe government by successive U.S. administrations. Consequently, the minimal communications between our two governments has contributed to suspicions and an inability for U.S. officials to reach out to cooperative Zimbabwe officials. Successive elections have been the subject of opposition and international criticism for the lack of political space allowed to those who would challenge the ruling ZANU party. Arrests, incarcerations, torture in custody, beatings at public rallies and demonstrations and disappearances of government opponents have denied legitimacy to the Zimbabwe election processes. The country’s commitment to democratic governance has been further placed in question due to a series of repressive laws preventing freedoms of speech, association and movement. As if the government’s repressive tactics are not troubling enough, political jockeying in Zimbabwe, including the recent dismissal of Vice President Joice Mujuru, places the succession to President Mugabe in doubt, which puts U.S. policy in question. Last week’s hearing examined current U.S. policy toward Zimbabwe and the prospects for an enhanced relationship depending on events that have not yet taken place. Of course, in foreign policy, one cannot wait until a crisis materializes in order to create a planned response. A leader nearing the century mark, presiding over a fractious political scene in a country that has experienced political and economic turmoil creates a situation in which planning for a positive outcome to regime change must be devised. Zimbabwe is a country rich in both natural and human potential. Once the resentments of the current old guard have passed and democratic governance can be established, U.S.-Zimbabwe relations can become what they have never been: harmonious and mutually beneficial."
Statements On Introduced Bills And Joint Resolutions March 16, 2015
Benjamin Cardin, D-MD
"(a) Program.—The Administrator shall establish and implement a program, to be known as the “Water Infrastructure Resiliency and Sustainability Program”, under which the Administrator shall award grants for each of fiscal years 2015 through 2019 to owners or operators of water systems for the purpose of increasing the resiliency or adaptability of the water systems to any ongoing or forecasted changes (based on the best available research and data) to the hydrologic conditions of a region of the United States. (b) Use of Funds.—As a condition on receipt of a grant under this Act, an owner or operator of a water system shall agree to use the grant funds exclusively to assist in the planning, design, construction, implementation, operation, or maintenance of a program or project that meets the purpose described in subsection (a) by— (1) conserving water or enhancing water use efficiency, including through the use of water metering and electronic sensing and control systems to measure the effectiveness of a water efficiency program; (2) modifying or relocating existing water system infrastructure made or projected to be significantly impaired by changing hydrologic conditions; (3) preserving or improving water quality, including through measures to manage, reduce, treat, or reuse municipal stormwater, wastewater, or drinking water; (4) investigating, designing, or constructing groundwater remediation, recycled water, or desalination facilities or systems to serve existing communities; (5) enhancing water management by increasing watershed preservation and protection, such as through the use of natural or engineered green infrastructure in the management, conveyance, or treatment of water, wastewater, or stormwater; (6) enhancing energy efficiency or the use and generation of renewable energy in the management, conveyance, or treatment of water, wastewater, or stormwater; (7) supporting the adoption and use of advanced water treatment, water supply management (such as reservoir reoperation and water banking), or water demand management technologies, projects, or processes (such as water reuse and recycling, adaptive conservation pricing, and groundwater banking) that maintain or increase water supply or improve water quality; (8) modifying or replacing existing systems or constructing new systems for existing communities or land that is being used for agricultural production to improve water supply, reliability, storage, or conveyance in a manner that— (A) promotes conservation or improves the efficiency of use of available water supplies; and (B) does not further exacerbate stresses on ecosystems or cause redirected impacts by degrading water quality or increasing net greenhouse gas emissions; (9) supporting practices and projects, such as improved irrigation systems, water banking and other forms of water transactions, groundwater recharge, stormwater capture, groundwater conjunctive use, and reuse or recycling of drainage water, to improve water quality or promote more efficient water use on land that is being used for agricultural production; (10) reducing flood damage, risk, and vulnerability by— (A) restoring floodplains, wetland, and upland integral to flood management, protection, prevention, and response; (B) modifying levees, floodwalls, and other structures through setbacks, notches, gates, removal, or similar means to facilitate reconnection of rivers to floodplains, reduce flood stage height, and reduce damage to properties and populations; (C) providing for acquisition and easement of flood-prone land and properties in order to reduce damage to property and risk to populations; or (D) promoting land use planning that prevents future floodplain development; (11) conducting and completing studies or assessments to project how changing hydrologic conditions may impact the future operations and sustainability of water systems; or (12) developing and implementing measures to increase the resilience of water systems and regional and hydrological basins, including the Colorado River Basin, to rapid hydrologic change or a natural disaster (such as tsunami, earthquake, flood, or volcanic eruption). (c) Application.—To seek a grant under this Act, the owner or operator of a water system shall submit to the Administrator an application that— (1) includes a proposal for the program, strategy, or infrastructure improvement to be planned, designed, constructed, implemented, or maintained by the water system; (2) provides the best available research or data that demonstrate— (A) the risk to the water resources or infrastructure of the water system as a result of ongoing or forecasted changes to the hydrologic system of a region, including rising sea levels and changes in precipitation patterns; and (B) the manner in which the proposed program, strategy, or infrastructure improvement would perform under the anticipated hydrologic conditions; (3) describes the manner in which the proposed program, strategy, or infrastructure improvement is expected— (A) to enhance the resiliency of the water system, including source water protection for community water systems, to the anticipated hydrologic conditions; or (B) to increase efficiency in the use of energy or water of the water system; and (4) describes the manner in which the proposed program, strategy, or infrastructure improvement is consistent with an applicable State, tribal, or local climate adaptation plan, if any. (d) Priority.— (1) Water systems at greatest and most immediate risk.—In selecting grantees under this Act, subject to section 4(b), the Administrator shall give priority to owners or operators of water systems that are, based on the best available research and data, at the greatest and most immediate risk of facing significant negative impacts due to changing hydrologic conditions. (2) Goals.—In selecting among applicants described in paragraph (1), the Administrator shall ensure that, to the maximum extent practicable, the final list of applications funded for each year includes a substantial number that propose to use innovative approaches to meet 1 or more of the following goals: (A) Promoting more efficient water use, water conservation, water reuse, or recycling. (B) Using decentralized, low-impact development technologies and nonstructural approaches, including practices that use, enhance, or mimic the natural hydrological cycle or protect natural flows. (C) Reducing stormwater runoff or flooding by protecting or enhancing natural ecosystem functions. (D) Modifying, upgrading, enhancing, or replacing existing water system infrastructure in response to changing hydrologic conditions. (E) Improving water quality or quantity for agricultural and municipal uses, including through salinity reduction. (F) Providing multiple benefits, including to water supply enhancement or demand reduction, water quality protection or improvement, increased flood protection, and ecosystem protection or improvement. (e) Cost-Sharing Requirement.— (1) Federal share.—The share of the cost of any program, strategy, or infrastructure improvement that is the subject of a grant awarded by the Administrator to the owner or operator of a water system under subsection (a) paid through funds distributed under this Act shall not exceed 50 percent of the cost of the program, strategy, or infrastructure improvement. (2) Calculation of non-federal share.—In calculating the non-Federal share of the cost of a program, strategy, or infrastructure improvement proposed by a water system in an application submitted under subsection (c), the Administrator shall— (A) include the value of any in-kind services that are integral to the completion of the program, strategy, or infrastructure improvement, including reasonable administrative and overhead costs; and (B) not include any other amount that the water system involved receives from the Federal Government. (f) Davis-Bacon Compliance.— (1) In general.—All laborers and mechanics employed by contractors and subcontractors on projects funded directly by or assisted in whole or in part by this Act shall be paid wages at rates not less than those prevailing on projects of a character similar in the locality as determined by the Secretary of Labor in accordance with subchapter IV of chapter 31 of part A of subtitle II of title 40, United States Code (commonly referred to as the “Davis-Bacon Act”). (2) Authority.—With respect to the labor standards specified in this subsection, the Secretary of Labor shall have the authority and functions set forth in Reorganization Plan Numbered 14 of 1950 (64 Stat. 1267; 5 U.S.C. App.) and section 3145 of title 40, United States Code. (g) Report to Congress.—Not later than 3 years after the date of enactment of this Act, and every 3 years thereafter, the Administrator shall submit to Congress a report that— (1) describes the progress in implementing this Act; and (2) includes information on project applications received and funded annually under this Act."
Providing For Congressional Disapproval Of A Rule Submitted By The National Labor Relations Board March 4, 2015
Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH
"An estimated 27 million people are trapped in the multibillion dollar marketplace that trafficks in slaves. Victims include forced migrant laborers, bonded laborers, and sex slaves, including women forced into marriages as de facto slaves. Tragically, as we have heard, children account for the majority of modern slaves, many of them trafficked and sexually exploited."
Providing For Congressional Disapproval Of A Rule Submitted By The National Labor Relations Board—Continued March 3, 2015
Mazie Hirono, D-HI
"I want to end with a quote from one of our labor organizers and leaders in Hawaii, Hawaii Laborers‘ business manager Peter Ganaban. In a recent piece in Pacific Business News, Mr. Ganaban explained that “Hawaii’s union climate is an extension of our local culture of helping each other and caring for our communities.”"
Keystone Xl Pipeline Approval Act February 11, 2015
Bill Shuster, R-PA
"This project will create good-paying American jobs. As the President has stated, “First-class infrastructure attracts first-class jobs.” Indeed, six unions representing over 3 million workers support this project, including the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, the International Union of Operating Engineers, the Laborers‘ International Union of North America, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the building and construction trade, and the Teamsters."

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