Reps. Chris Smith (R., N.J.) and Anna Eshoo (D., Calif.) joined together Wednesday to push for greater aid to those in the Middle East who have been victimized by the Islamic State and other groups perpetrating violence against civilians.
Smith and Eshoo spoke outside the Capitol in Washington, D.C. with the supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus, Carl Anderson, the day after the House of Representatives passed H.R. 390 by voice vote.
If signed into law, the Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act of 2017 would "provide for emergency relief to victims of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes in Iraq and Syria," including Christians and Yazidis. The measure would also hold perpetrators of these crimes accountable for their actions.
Smith and Eshoo lamented the lack of action for civilians in the region while praising those who were providing aid on the ground in the Middle East, including the Knights of Columbus. The Catholic fraternal organization has donated more than $12 million in aid for Christian refugees.
Smith gave impassioned remarks on the issue of religious minorities in the Middle East. Anderson touted the House vote the prior night as a step forward to help those suffering in the region.
"We must have the courage to confront reality, and then we must have the courage to change reality," Anderson said. "That is what the House of Representatives did last night."
"We are tremendously grateful for the courage and determination of Congressman Smith and Congresswoman Eshoo. We thank all those in the House who voted for the bill," Anderson said. "Now the Senate must act and act quickly to pass this legislation."