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Rubio-Merkley Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act Becomes Law

Dec 23, 2021 | Press Releases

Miami, FL — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) released a statement after President Joe Biden signed his Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act into law. The new law, which Rubio and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) first introduced with Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and James P. McGovern (D-MA) in 2020, will ensure that goods made with the slave labor of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and elsewhere in the People’s Republic of China do not enter the United States. 
“This is the most important and impactful action taken thus far by the United States to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for their use of slave labor,” Rubio said. “It will fundamentally change our relationship with Beijing. This law should also ensure that Americans no longer unknowingly buy goods made by slaves in China. I look forward to working with the Biden Administration and my colleagues to ensure the new law is implemented correctly and enforced properly.”
Rubio is a senior member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Ranking Senate Member of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), and Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.  
A brief timeline of Rubio’s efforts this year is below:
January 27: Senators Rubio and Merkley reintroduce the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (S.65).
June 24: Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act approved by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. 
July 14: Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act passes Senate unanimously. 
September 3: Former Secretary of State and current Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry tells reporters, “On the one hand, we’re saying to them—you have to do more to help deal with the climate. And on the other hand, their solar panels are being sanctioned which makes it harder for them to sell them.”
September 28: Senator Rubio and Representative Smith write to President Biden asking whether his “administration [is] committed to supporting the quick passage and enactment of the UFLPA.” 
September 28: “We don’t have a position at this point in time,” White House Press Secretary tells Real Clear Politics.
October: “Biden administration officials have been quietly telling lawmakers to slow down,” the Washington Post reports months later. “Administration sources confirmed that in an October call between Deputy Secretary of State Wendy R. Sherman and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), the other co-sponsor, Sherman made it clear that the administration prefers a more targeted and deliberative approach to determining which goods are the products of forced labor. She also told Merkley that getting allied buy-in was critical and more effective than unilateral action.”
November 18: Senator Rubio tries to include the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act in the defense bill, but there is an objection.
December 1: Senator Rubio blocks an amendment package on the defense bill to force action on his Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.
December 2: Representative McGovern announces that the House will vote on the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.
December 3: Conversations begin between Rubio and McGovern to find consensus language.
December 8: House passes its version of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. Conversations continue on finding consensus language.
December 14: Senators Rubio and Merkley praise the bipartisan, bicameral agreement to send the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act to the President’s desk. House passes revised version of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act
December 16: Senate passes the revised version of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which is sent to the president to become law.