Mr. CROWLEY. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous materials on the resolution under consideration.
Mr. CROWLEY. I yield myself such time as I may consume. [Page: H2414]
I rise in strong support of House Resolution 1215, a measure to honor Bangladesh's return to democracy. I'd like to thank the chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, Chairman Berman, and Ranking Member Ros-Lehtinen for their support of this resolution. I'd also like to thank the gentleman from California (Mr. Royce) for leading this effort with me, along with other members of the House Caucus on Bangladesh.
Just 18 months ago, this House passed a resolution urging a return to democracy in Bangladesh. At the time, we were concerned that Bangladesh was creeping toward totalitarianism and authoritarianism, especially after the ruling caretaker government postponed national elections. The 160 million people of Bangladesh faced an uncertain future.
Instead of succumbing to the temptations of permanent power, the caretaker government ultimately scheduled nationwide elections. They invited international election monitors into the country and created an independent anticorruption commission. The elections were deemed credible by numerous international observers, and, most importantly, by the people of Bangladesh.
Today, the day before Bangladesh celebrates their Independence Day, it is an opportunity for this House to honor the Bangladesh people and their democracy. Bangladesh has made important strides towards reaching the qualification requirements of the Millennium Challenge Corporation. It has taken steps to create a path into government for women, and, not least, the Bangladeshis have worked very hard to fight extremism.
Bangladesh has become an important partner of the United States. Even as it faces challenges with serious poverty, threats from climate change, and extremism, the Bangladeshi people have shown remarkable resilience, creativity, and principle. This is exactly the kind of country the United States ought to work with and do more to support, not because the situation on the ground is perfect, but because by working together we have clearly created a better path forward.
In the coming months, I hope the Bangladeshi authorities will make every possible effort to deepen and strengthen political reconciliation within their country. I also hope the Bangladeshi people and their government will work with us to identify stronger mechanisms to improve assistance and protection for refugees fleeing from neighboring countries. Inside Bangladesh, the protection of minorities must remain a high priority for its government. At the same time, I hope the international community
will more quickly wake up to the positive changes Bangladesh has made thus far.
The fact is, Bangladesh is a moderate Muslim nation of 160 million people that wants to work with the United States of America. I hope that our government can find more ways to work alongside Bangladesh to support good governance, human rights, and development. There's clearly much more that we can do to work together.
For today, though, we honor Bangladesh, the Bangladeshi people, and the many hardworking Bangladeshi Americans on their national day, a day that I know that they treasure. As an independent, moderate, and democratic nation, Bangladesh deserves no less.
With that, Mr. Speaker, I wish to reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. BOOZMAN. I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I rise in support of H. Res. 1215, a measure expressing the support of the American people for Bangladesh's return to democracy.
Mr. Speaker, the United States and Bangladesh have been friends for more than a half a century. We have worked together to build a strong and lasting democracy. The United States welcomed the free, fair, and transparent elections that occurred in December 2008. The United States is proud to have supported that effort, and we will continue to support efforts to improve and promote development, democracy, social harmony, and mutual tolerance.
The United States attaches a great importance to South Asia. In this context, the good news coming out of Bangladesh related to democratic development, economic progress, and rejection of violent extremism. All of this is being strongly welcomed in Washington. In this regard, we are all pleased that ties between our two countries continue to deepen. Our two governments are working closely to address global challenges, including climate change, food security, terrorism, and pandemic disease.
I would particularly like to highlight longstanding U.S. efforts to empower women at the grassroots level, including through helping local governments be more transparent and accountable to the Bangladeshi people. Meanwhile, the growing voice of the Bangladeshi American community in Arkansas and elsewhere around the country is helping to strengthen and extend people-to-people ties between our two vibrant societies.
In conclusion, I support the adoption of the resolution.
Having no further speakers, I yield back the balance of our time.
Mr. CROWLEY. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Arkansas for his being here in support of this resolution and the minority for supporting this resolution and the timely manner in which you allowed this to come to the floor. I appreciate it tremendously. I know all the members of the Bangladeshi Caucus appreciate it as well.
Mr. Speaker, I have had the opportunity to visit Bangladesh on several occasions, and I have tremendous respect for the people of Bangladesh. They're hardworking, good people, and they love America. It's amazing the outpouring of affection that I experience when I go to that country.
I also want to say that post-9/11, on my first visit to Bangladesh, the desire for the Bangladeshi people to strengthen the ties between our two nations was palpable then. I know in this new government, the post-caretaker government, it is as strong today as it was after 9/11. And for a country of 160 million Muslim people with a considerable minority population within that population, as well, of Hindu and Christian and other religions, that bond between our nations is as strong as ever. I also
recognize that not everything is perfect in Bangladesh and that they're working towards making it a stronger and a better democracy for its people, but also for the region in which Bangladesh lies.
So, Mr. Speaker, with that, I just want to thank, again, the minority for this opportunity to congratulate Bangladesh as they celebrate their Independence Day, and the people of Bangladesh and Bangladeshi Americans who hold very dear March 26 as Bangladeshi Independence Day.
Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.