The bi-partisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission was established with the unanimous consent of the United States House of Representatives in 2008. Membership in the Commission is free and open to all members of the House of Representatives.
The Commission is charged with promoting, defending and advocating for international human rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant human rights instruments. The Commission undertakes public education activities, provides expert human rights advice and encourages members of Congress to actively engage in human rights matters. In carrying out its mandate, the Commission collaborates with congressional staff, the U.S. Senate and the executive branch, and continually engages with national and international civil society organizations.
The Commission is chaired by two members of the House of Representatives who are appointed by the Speaker of the House and the Minority Leader. For the 116th Congress, Rep. James P. McGovern (MA-02) is the Democratic Co-Chair, and Rep. Christopher H. Smith (NJ-04) is the Republican Co-Chair. The Speaker and the Leader also name the eight members of the Commission's Executive Committee, four from each party, upon recommendation of the Co-Chairs. For the 116th Congress, the members of the Executive Committee are:
Gus M. Bilirakis (R-FL)
- Debra Haaland (D-NM)
Andy Harris, M.D. (R-MD)
Darin LaHood (R-IL)
Alan Lowenthal (D-CA)
Jamie Raskin (D-MD)
- Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)
Norma J. Torres (D-CA)