Representative Jim McGovern

Representative Jim McGovern giving his remarks at the Special Order on Tibet in the House of Representatives.

On the evening of June 13, 2016, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) led a Special Order on Tibet on the floor of the House of Representatives, which was scheduled to coincide with His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s arrival in Washington, D.C. A Special Order is a procedure that enables a Member of the House to speak on any topic they wish, for a specified period of time, after all legislative business is concluded for the day.

Rep. McGovern took the floor at approximately 8:45 pm, and was joined by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. Representatives Mike Capuano (D-MA), Tim Walz (D-MI), Chris Smith (R-NJ), James Sensenbrenner (R- WI), and Mark Pocan (D- WI) submitted written statements on Tibet to the Congressional Record. Rep. McGovern welcomed the Dalai Lama to D.C., and urged the Administration and Congress to do more to both protect the rights of the Tibetan people, and to preserve Tibetan culture, language, identity, and religion. He spoke about the historic congressional delegation to Tibet and China, led by Leader Nancy Pelosi in November 2015. Rep. McGovern stated:

“Everywhere we went, in every meeting we had, we talked about Tibet. We talked about the Dalai Lama and his strong bipartisan support in Congress. We talked about the importance of respect for people’s cultures and religions, and we talked about the need to strengthen and protect all of the human rights of the Tibetan people.”

Rep. McGovern described their visit as just a first step, and that since their return from Tibet, “we have been looking for ways to build on our visit and to advance the reforms needed for meaningful change.” He proceeded to mention a number of different steps that the Administration and Congress should be taking to improve the situation in Tibet, including passing a bill in the House that he introduced, the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act (H.R. 1112), and for the US government to invite the Dalai Lama to “every event on every occasion where his decades of knowledge, experience, and reflections would be helpful for addressing the world’s problems.” He also said that we should “insist that Tibet be part of our climate change discussions with China.”

Leader Pelosi

Leader Pelosi giving her remarks at the Special Order on Tibet in the House of Representatives.

Leader Pelosi opened her remarks by welcoming His Holiness the Dalai Lama to D.C. and stating that he is “among one of the things that we all [Democrats and Republicans] agree on – his greatness and the honor he brings us with his visit.” Leader Pelosi then described her interactions with the Dalai Lama over the years, in Congress and elsewhere, as well as his broad bipartisan support, not just in Congress, but also in the White House. As she has said on previous occasions, Leader Pelosi reiterated that “Tibet remains a challenge to the conscience of the world, and we must respond to that.”

In his written statement, Rep. Walz (D-MI) states that as the U.S. “continues to advance U.S.-China relations, we must never forget the people of Tibet. Restrictions on human rights and religious freedom in Tibet have been a growing concern to many.” Representatives Capuano (D-MA), Sensenbrenner (R-WI), and Pocan (D-WI) paid tribute and offered welcome wishes to the Dalai Lama in their written statements, and Capuano and Sensenbrenner urged support in the House for pending legislation on Tibet each has introduced: H. Res. 584 (Capuano) which urges the President to seek an independent investigation into the death of Tibetan Buddhist leader Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and to publicly call for an end to the repressive policies of the People’s Republic of China in Tibet, and H.R. 2679, the Tibetan Refugee Assistance Act of 2015 (Sensenbrenner). Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), in his written remarks – which focus on the denial of religious freedom in Tibet — describes the Dalai Lama as an “energetic and unfailing ambassador for human rights and the rights of the Tibetan people.”

For the full text of Rep. Jim McGovern’s speech as prepared for delivery, and a link to video of his and Leader Pelosi’s remarks on the House floor, click here.

Click here to view the speeches and statements as they appear in the Congressional Record:

Special Order on Tibet, Congressional Record (CR), June 13, 2016, H3747-H3752

Hon. Mark Pocan, “Honoring His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” CR, June 9, 2016, E866

Hon. Jim Sensenbrenner, “Support for the Region of Tibet,” CR, June 9, 2016, E874

Hon. Chris Smith, “Tibet and the Visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Washington, D.C.,” CR, June 10, 2016, E878