The U.S. Congress has gone on recess with much legislation still in limbo, including a resolution that would congratulate the Baltic states on the 20th anniversary of their renewed independence and the end of Soviet occupation.
Unless the House of Representatives acts on it when lawmakers return after the November mid-term election, H.Con.Res.267 could just die in committee.
The Washington, D.C.-based Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC) in mid-September urged its supporters to press legislators to adopt the resolution before going on recess. While the effort failed, JBANC’s appeal did have some effect: The number of co-sponsors for the resolution more than doubled.
Republican Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois introduced the resolution on April 26 and it was referred immediately to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The resolution had 12 co-sponsors in mid-September. It now has 27.
JBANC’s managing director, Karl Altau, attributed the increase in sponsors to lobbying in Washington and to the work of Baltic communities.
“We’re encouraged by the rise in interest, albeit in this late hour,” he told Latvians Online in a Sept. 30 e-mail. “I feel that with an additional 65 office visits over the last week in Washington, D.C., and in particular with help from the Latvian-American communities in Illinois and California, that we have also generated much more interest in the resolution. Eleven of the 28 supporters (including Shimkus) are from those two states.”
Altau remains optimistic the resolution could be acted on when Congress reconvenes.
“With the number of co-sponsors, we are technically over the threshold to have this brought out of committee and onto the floor for a vote,” he said. “We can only hope that there remains a window of opportunity in the lame duck session. It would be particularly nice to have this passed before Latvian Independence Day.”
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