Press Releases

Corker: Alignment of ‘Full Range of America’s Elements of National Power’ Needed for Success Against ISIS

Press release from U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; February 26, 2015:

WASHINGTON – At a hearing yesterday on the fight against ISIS, U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, emphasized the importance of a cohesive U.S. strategy for success in confronting the terrorist organization as Congress considers President Obama’s request for an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF).

“[W]e owe it to our nation as we consider this to know that the full range of America’s elements of national power, diplomatic, economic, and military means are aligned in such a way to get to the administration’s stated goals,” said Corker in his opening statement.

In questioning General John R. Allen, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL (or ISIS), Senator Corker asked whether the AUMF will need to allow for the protection of U.S.-trained forces in Syria if they are attacked by the Assad regime.

“In the event that we needed to protect those that we’re training and equipping and other members of the Free Syrian Army…against Assad barrel bombing them, do you believe…that needs an additional authority other than what is now being requested?” Corker asked.

General Allen responded by saying, “My hope is that we’d be able to provide the kind of protection that they need and they deserve within the authorization that we’re currently proposing.”

During a separate hearing yesterday with Secretary of State John Kerry testifying before the committee, Senator Corker pressed the Obama administration to make a commitment to protect the force that the U.S. is preparing to retake territory from ISIS in Syria.

“If we’re not willing to protect them, it speaks to the fact that the administration doesn’t really seem serious about taking ISIS on as it relates to Syria,” said Corker in questioning Secretary Kerry.

Secretary Kerry recognized “defending those who are engaged in the fight of ISIL…is an important part of defeating ISIL” but acknowledged “the president hasn’t made a final decision on that.”

Press Releases

Corker to File ‘Bold, Bipartisan’ Bill to ‘Eliminate’ Human Trafficking

Statement from U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; Week of February 23, 2015:

This week, Senator Corker will introduce bold, bipartisan legislation to help eliminate slavery and human trafficking around the globe. Follow the conversation online using the hashtags #EndSlaveryAct and #EndItMovement.

Background: Over 27 million people are trapped in the multi-billion dollar modern slave trade industry. Although slavery is illegal in every corner of the world, this crime of opportunity exists in more than 165 countries, including our own, and thrives most where enforcement is weak, whether due to indifference, corruption or lack of resources. While U.S. government agencies and many groups and organizations have taken significant steps toward fighting modern slavery, we need to take our efforts to the next level. But the United States cannot meet this challenge alone, so Senator Corker has introduced bold, bipartisan legislation to create a focused, sustained effort in concert with the private sector and foreign governments to eliminate sexual and labor human slavery worldwide. This model is designed to leverage limited foreign aid dollars and galvanize tremendous support and investment from the public sector, philanthropic organizations and the private sector to focus resources responsibly where this crime is most prevalent. This effort will complement other legislation focused on improving enforcement within the United States.

Establishing The End Modern Slavery Initiative Foundation: The legislation, similar to the establishment of the National Endowment for Democracy, will authorize a 501(c)(3) non-profit grant-making foundation in the District of Columbia to be known as “The End Modern Slavery Initiative Foundation” that will fund programs and projects outside the United States that must:

  • Contribute to the freeing and sustainable recovery of victims of modern slavery, prevent individuals from being enslaved, and enforce laws to punish individual and corporate perpetrators of modern slavery.
  • Set clear, defined goals and outcomes that can be empirically measured; and
  • Achieve a measurable 50 percent reduction of modern slavery in targeted populations.

Funding: The initiative will seek to raise $1.5 billion, more than 80 percent of which will come through matching funds from the private sector and foreign governments. Sources of funding are as follows:

  • $251 million in authorized funds from the United States over eight years: $1 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, followed by authorizations of $35.7 million in FY 2016-2022.
  • $500 million from other foreign governments. (Double the investment of U.S. funds.)
  • $750 million in private funding. (Triple the investment of U.S. funds.)

U.S. funds must be matched by $500 million from foreign governments and $250 million from the private sector. The remaining $500 million will be raised by The End Modern Slavery Initiative Foundation from additional private sector contributions. The U.S. government will channel diplomatic support and additional resources for law enforcement, rule of law, economic development and training assistance in support of The End Modern Slavery Initiative.

Monitoring and Evaluation: Progress will be tracked against baseline data to achieve a 50 percent reduction in slavery. Projects that fail to meet goals will be suspended or terminated. The bill requires the Foundation to remain focused on achieving a significant reduction in modern slavery within a period of seven years. The Foundation is required to comply with the Government Accountability Office’s mandate to conduct financial audits and program evaluations.

Press Releases

Corker Calls on Congress to Work to ‘End Modern Day Slavery’

Press release from U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; February 5, 2015:

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WASHINGTON – During a hearing to examine the challenge of modern day slavery today, U.S. SenatorBob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called for Congress to “create and lead a vision” to end this deplorable practice world-wide.

“Congress can create and lead a vision to end modern day slavery,” Corker said. “With the U.S. behind it; we can lead; we can solve; we can bring others to the table.”

The committee heard testimony from leading non-governmental organizations and slavery victims that elevated the scope of this global problem and offered successful strategies for combating human trafficking. More than 27 million people around the world are enslaved. Forced labor accounts for 74 percent of victims and forced sexual servitude accounts for 26 percent of victims. Women and girls are especially vulnerable to slavery and human trafficking, accounting for 54 percent of victims. Children under the age of 18 account for 26 percent of victims.

“Number one, slavery is as brutal as ever. Number two, it’s more vast than ever, but thirdly, it’s more stoppable than ever,” said Gary Haugen of the International Justice Mission in his testimony before the committee. Haugen emphasized the need to improve local law enforcement as a deterrent to traffickers who thrive in communities that turn a blind eye to their activities.

“We’ve measured trafficking fall off by more than 80 percent and even higher in larger populations when impunity ended,” added Haugen.

Witnesses identified the role of public-private partnerships, especially for leveraging scarce resources and raising awareness of human slavery, as an important priority for policy makers.

“The business of human trafficking is too large to allow fragmentation of efforts, which is why bringing government, business, and civil society together is key,” David Abramowitz of Humanity United said.

Organizations focused on ending modern day slavery have developed reliable methods of measuring their efforts, which allows for greater accountability of public investments devoted to ending slavery.

“We can measure how much sex trafficking, forced labor is actually taking place by infiltrating the criminal networks who are operating and get a baseline. Then you can actually carry out your intervention and measure…at the end whether or not there has actually been…an increase…in enforcement and then a correlated decrease in the actual prevalence of the slavery,” Haugen said.

The committee also heard the compelling stories of James Kofi Annan and Shandra Woworuntu, both trafficking survivors who have dedicated themselves to victims’ advocacy so that others will not fall prey to similar violence and captivity.

“I want to thank you for the courage to be here but also for taking your experiences and using them to help other people,” said Corker in thanking the victims for their testimony. “One of the easier outcomes to produce is to make sure people are more fully aware and that parents understand what is happening in various countries with their young ones; and to understand the tremendous plight of victims who in many cases are not dealt with as victims.”

Testifying at today’s hearing were Gary Haugen, President, International Justice Mission; Shawna Bader-Blau, Executive Director; Solidarity Center; David Abramowitz, Vice President, Policy and Government Relations, Humanity United; James Kofi Annan, Trafficking Survivor & Founder, Challenging Heights; and Shandra Woworuntu, trafficking survivor.

For complete testimony and archived video footage of the hearing, click here.

Press Releases

Corker Objects to Obama Administration Opposition to Congressional Vote on Final Iran Agreement

Press release from U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; January 21, 2015:

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WASHINGTON – In his first Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing as chairman, U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) objected to the Obama administration’s apparent opposition to Congress having an up-or-down vote on a final agreement with Iran.

“I want these negotiations to be successful…but just stiff-arming [Congress]…and saying, ‘No, we really don’t want you to play a role, we want you to just trust us,’ is totally unacceptable from my standpoint,” said Corker during the hearing on Iran nuclear negotiations.

Corker further argued that requiring a vote in Congress would strengthen the U.S. negotiating position, increasing the likelihood of an acceptable final deal that would outlast the Obama administration.

“I would just argue that having Congress as a backstop as you enter these final steps…would be somewhat of an anchor to keep us from continuing to move toward Iran’s position,” added Corker.

He also rejected any notion that U.S. partners in the talks with Iran fear congressional review would disrupt the negotiations.

“I’ve talked with our international partners. Not a single one of them has any concerns whatsoever with Congress having the ability to vote up or down on a final deal. Many of them believe it strengthens our hands,” said Corker in response to Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who admitted during today’s hearing that the Iranian parliament might have to approve a deal if one is reached.

Senator Corker’s proposal would require the Obama administration to submit any final nuclear deal with Iran to Congress for review and an up-or-down vote. The purpose of the proposal would be to give relevant congressional committees the opportunity to hold hearings and for both the Senate and the House of Representatives to vote on the agreement. Under existing U.S. law, a similar role for Congress is required when the U.S. shares civilian nuclear technology with a foreign country (known as a “123 agreement”).

Press Releases

Corker Supports Foreign Relations Committee Resolution for Limited Force in Syria

Press release from the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee;

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, today made the following statement regarding committee passage of a limited authorization for the use of military force in Syria.

“None of us want the U.S. mired down in another conflict, so the committee has significantly limited the president’s original authorization, while still providing for an appropriate use of force in response to Assad’s use of chemical weapons. It prevents boots on the ground, limits the duration of any military action, and requires a progress report on the administration’s overall Syria policy,” said Corker. “As we now move to the full Senate, the American people deserve a full and open debate about U.S. interests in Syria.”