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House to Take Up Resolution Honoring Mandela This Week

Tight as the legislative calendar may be for the House’s last week in session before the holiday recess, Republican leadership is expected to carve out some time before Friday to bring up a resolution honoring the life of Nelson Mandela.

A GOP leadership aide confirmed to CQ Roll Call that “we are looking at moving something later in the week” that would express a sense of Congress’ recognition of Mandela’s contributions.

Mandela, the first black president of South Africa who, before that, spent nearly three decades in prison for protesting apartheid, died last week at the age of 95.

The aide said the hope was to bring a resolution to the floor after the congressional delegation returns from the memorial service in South Africa. A number of House Democrats mostly hailing from the Congressional Black Caucus are attending, led by lone House Republican Rep. Aaron Schock of Illinois. The CODEL is expected back in Washington on Thursday night.

Though the aide didn’t specify what the language of the resolution would look like, an obvious candidate would be the bipartisan measure introduced on Monday afternoon by Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., who serves as the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa.

Original co-sponsors include Africa Subcommittee Chairman Christopher H. Smith, R-N.J., CBC Chairwoman Marcia L. Fudge, D-Ohio, and the chairman and ranking member of the full Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce, R-Calif., and Eliot L. Engel, D-N.Y., respectively.

According to a press release announcing the introduction of the resolution, the measure would honor “the life, accomplishments and legacy of Nelson Mandela [while] expressing condolences on his passing.”

The House’s consideration of a nonbinding resolution on the occasion of Mandela’s death would be timely, but unusual, for the 113th Congress. Since House Republicans took control of the chamber in 2011, their first order of business was to significantly scale back the number of celebratory or recognition-related resolutions to be considered on the floor under the suspension calendar.

GOP leaders have been known to make exceptions from time to time, however. Earlier this year, the House passed a resolution expressing Congress’ condolences regarding the death of former United Kingdom Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. More recently, it took up a resolution on the occasion of the death of former Speaker Tom Foley, D-Wash.

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