The Biden administration has briefed Congress on the military coup in Myanmar, Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerProgressive groups urge Schumer to prevent further cuts to T plan Collins says she supports legislation putting Roe v. Wade protections into law Biden should seek some ideological diversity MORE (D-N.Y.) said on Monday, amid an international outcry condemning Burmese forces over their arrest of democratically elected leaders.
Speaking from the Senate floor, Schumer said Congress stands ready to work with the administration on efforts to support restoring democracy in the Southeast Asian country, also referred to as Burma.
“We are monitoring this situation with great concern, and the Biden administration is already providing briefings to the Hill on the state of affairs,” he said. “Congress stands ready to work collaboratively with the administration to resolve the situation.”
The New York senator called for bipartisan cooperation with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCongress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight House sets up Senate shutdown showdown Biden says he doesn't believe a government shutdown will happen MORE (R-Ky.) in responding to the military coup.
“I know this is a region of long-standing concern and interest to the Republican leader, so I hope that we can productively work together in a bipartisan fashion to determine the best course of action for America's interests and for the people of Myanmar,” he said.
The Burmese military early Monday morning declared a state of national emergency and directed ruling authority for one year to its chief commander, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, while carrying out arrests of Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and others civilian government officials.
Suu Kyi’s NLD party was set to open the first parliamentary session since it was elected in a majority victory in the November election. The Burmese military said it instituted the coup because the civilian government did not address its claims of election fraud, despite Myanmar’s electoral commission saying the election was secure.
The international community, joined by the U.S., was swift to offer condemnation and call for the military to release the jailed politicians and allow the democratically elected government to continue.
President Biden on Monday said the U.S. is weighing punitive actions if the military does not quickly reverse course and is coordinating with allies on a unified response.
The U.S. lifted general sanctions on Burma in 2016 as part of efforts supporting its push toward a civilian-led and democratically elected government after decades of military rule, but that still allowed for imposition of specific and targeted sanctions.
This includes the 2019 sanctioning of Hlaing for gross human rights violations related to the 2017 attacks on the minority-Muslim Rohingya group in Rakhine state, which the U.S. declared an act of ethnic cleansing and which the United Nations has said likely amounts to genocide.
Biden on Monday said the military coup necessitates the U.S. to review its sanctions policy toward Burma “followed by appropriate action.”