Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act FAQ
Q. What does the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act of 2011 (S. 558) do?
A: The bill would prevent future cluster bomb atrocities by only allowing U.S. military funds to be used for cluster bombs if 1) the cluster bombs have a failure rate of 1% or less and 2) the cluster bombs are not used where civilians are known to be present.
Q: Which U.S. Senator(s) introduced the bill?
A: Senator Dianne Feinstein from California and Senator Patrick Leahy from Vermont.
Q: What other U.S. Senators co-sponsor and officially support the bill?
Sen. Akaka, Daniel K. [HI]
Sen. Bingaman, Jeff [NM]
Sen. Boxer, Barbara [CA]
Sen. Brown, Sherrod [OH]
Sen. Cantwell, Maria [WA]
Sen. Cardin, Benjamin L. [MD]
Sen. Casey, Robert P., Jr. [PA]
Sen. Durbin, Richard [IL]
Sen. Franken, Al [MN]
Sen. Harkin, Tom [IA]
Sen. Johnson, Tim [SD]
Sen. Klobuchar, Amy [NM]
Sen. Leahy, Patrick J. [VT]
Sen. Menendez, Robert [NJ]
Sen. Merkley, Jeff [OR]
Sen. Mikulski, Barbara A. [MD]
Sen. Rockefeller, John D., IV [WV]
Sen. Sanders, Bernard [VT]
Sen. Udall, Tom[NM]
Sen. Whitehouse, Sheldon [RI]
Sen. Wyden, Ron[OR]
Q: Where is S. 558 currently located?
A: S. 558 is currently located in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Q: Does the House of Representatives have a similar bill?
A: Yes, there is an identical bill in the House of Representatives – H.R. 996 – introduced by Representative James McGovern of Massachusetts.
Q: What other Representatives co-sponsor and officially support the bill?
Rep. Bousstany, Charles W., Jr. [LA-7]
Rep. Conyers, John, Jr. [MI-14]
Rep. Holt, Rush D. [CA-49]
Rep. Issa, Darrell E. [CA-49]
Rep. Jackson, Jesse L. Jr. [IL-2]
Rep. Moran, James P. [VA-8]
Rep. Rahall, Nick J., II [WV-3]
Q: How does a bill become law?
A: The U.S. Congress is a bicameral legislature, which means that there are two “chambers” or “houses” that the bill must be approved of by: The U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. The U.S. Senate consists of 2 Senators from each state and the House of Representatives consist of 435 Representatives across the country based on the number of people in each state. After both houses pass the bill, the bill then goes to the U.S. President for either an approval or veto. The steps to creating a law include:
Introduction of Legislation: Any Senator or U.S. Representative can introduce a bill on any topic or issue.
Committee Action: The bill is assigned to a committee in the house that it was introduced in. Committees consist of some members whose duty is to vote on the bills that are assigned to that committee. The committee may hold a hearing on the bill and be voted on. If the bill receives enough votes, the bill then moves to the Senate or House floor for debate and approval.
Floor Action: After the bill passes out of committee, the bill goes to the floor of the house it originated from for debate and for a vote by all members of that house. If the bill passes on the floor, it moves to the other chamber for the same process of committee and floor action in that house. However, if there is a similar bill (also known as a “companion bill”) located in the other house, the bill goes to a Conference Committee and skips the other chamber.
Conference Committee: Sometimes identical or companion bills are introduced in both the Senate and in the House. When one of those bills pass out of its house of origin, members from both chambers form a conference committee to work out any differences between the two bills. When they reach a compromise, the agreed-upon bill skips the other house and goes to the President for review.
President Decides: The final step of creating a law includes the President’s approval or veto of the bill. If the bill is approved, it is “signed into law” by the President and takes effect. If it is vetoed, the bill dies and can be reintroduced in the future by starting the legislative process all over again.
Q: Why is this bill important to the cluster bomb situation in Laos?
A: Laos represents the worst case of the enduring impact of deadly cluster bombs. Passage of this bill would ensure that future injuries and deaths from cluster bombs don’t happen anywhere else.
Q: How many cluster bomblets or “bombies” were dropped on Laos during the Vietnam War era?
A: At least 270 million cluster bomblets.
Q: How many cluster bomblets did not explode upon impact and remain on Laos soil?
A: Up to 80 million.
Q: How many people have been injured or killed by unexploded ordnance (UXO), including cluster bombs, in Laos?
A: Over 50,000 people in the period 1964-2012. Over 20,000 since the war ended, in the period 1973-2012.
Q: What is the population of Laos?
A: About 6.5 million people.