As cleared for the President's consideration, S. 3744 would impose sanctions on foreign individuals and entities responsible for human rights abuses in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region and require various reports on the topic..
The Uyghurs have traditionally inhabited a series of oases scattered across the Taklamakan Desert within the Tarim Basin, a territory that has historically been controlled by many civilizations including China, the Mongols, the Tibetans and various Turkic polities. The Uyghurs gradually started to become Islamized in the 10th century and most Uyghurs identified as Muslims by the 16th century. Islam has since played an important role in Uyghur culture and identity.
Since 2015, it has been estimated that over a million Uyghurs been have detained in Xinjiang re-education camps. The camps were established under General Secretary Xi Jinping's administration with the main goal of ensuring adherence to national ideology. Critics of China's treatment of Uyghurs have accused the Chinese government of propagating a policy of sinicization in Xinjiang in the 21st century, calling this policy an ethnocide or a cultural genocide of Uyghurs.
The first version of the "Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act" was introduced in the Senate on January 17, 2019, by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) as. S. 178. It was introduced in the House on that same day by Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) as H.R. 649.
The Senate passed the Senate-passed version of S. 178 on September 11, 2019, by unanimous consent.
The House Committee on Foreign Affairs marked up S. 178 on October 30, 2019, amending it an ordering it to be reported to the full House.
The full House of Representatives took up the House Amendments to S. 178 on December 3, 2019, passing it by a vote of 407-1.
A new version of the "Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act" was introduced in the Senate on May 14, 2020, by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) as. S. 3744.
The Senate passed S. 3.744 on May 14, 2020, by unanimous consent. The House followed the Senate on May 27, passing it by a vote of 413-1.
The Democratic floor manager of the bill was Representative Brad Sherman (D-CA). The Republican floor manager was House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Minority Member Michael McCaul (R-TX). Both the majority and minority floor managers supported the measure.
Democrats speaking in favor of the the bill on the House floor were Representatives Sherman, Jim McGovern (D-MA), Tom Suozzi (D-NY), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
Republicans speaking in favor of the bill were Representatives McCaul and Christopher Smith (R-NJ), the sponsor of the House version of the bill.
No Members spoke in opposition to the bill.
When asked during a May 26, 2020, press availability whether he would sign the measure, the President asserted that he was going to take a hard look at it later that day. However, the White House never released a Statement of Administration Policy on the bill and declined to respond to questions about it on Wednesday, as the House was taking up the measure.