No one wants 12-year-olds to be forced into marriage. This bill had bipartisan momentum behind it. $5 million to stop 12-year-olds from getting married? Sure.While we're spending taxpayer money on symbolic gestures why not have a Genital Mutilation Prevention Act or a Stoning to Death of Innocent Women Prevention Act? I don't think anyone is arguing that the marriage of insanely young girls to their uncles is a good thing but you would have to be a fool to believe that throwing American taxpayer money at culturally ingrained travesties in other countries would a) do any good and b) is the work of the US Congress.
But few nations recognize such marriages: Sudan, Tanzania and Yemen. The Senate bill was a product of Democrat Dick Durbin of Illinois and Republican Olympia Snowe of Maine. The House version was a product of Democrat Betty McCollum of Minnesota and Republican Ander Crenshaw. (A curious thing though, girls under 16 can still marry in both Maine and Minnesota. Perhaps they should fix that first before saving the world.)
House Republican leaders, though, took a closer look at the bill and, according to Amanda Terkel, decided to oppose it. She said they sent this in an e-mail:
S. 987 authorizes $108 million over 5 years without sufficient oversight of the taxpayers’ money. According to the Congressional Research Service, there is no available, confirmed figure on how much taxpayer funding is already being used to fight child marriage in developing countries and this bill does not address that issue.
In contrast, Ranking Member Ros-Lehtinen has introduced H.R. 6521, which would result in no more than $1 million in potential costs, while making it clear that child marriage is a violation of human rights and that its prevention should be a goal of US foreign policy; requiring the creation of a multi-year strategy; requiring a comprehensive assessment of what the United States is already doing and funding in the effort to fight child marriage; and requiring that the practice of child marriage in other countries be reported each year as part of the annual Human Rights Report.
There are also concerns that funding will be directed to NGOs that promote and perform abortion and efforts to combat child marriage could be usurped as a way to overturn pro-life laws.
Congress needs to get out of the symbolism business.