Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Madam Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 3062) to authorize appropriations to provide for South Pacific exchanges, provide technical and other assistance to countries in the Pacific region through the United States Agency for International Development, and authorize appropriations to provide Fulbright Scholarships for Pacific Island students, as amended.
The Clerk read the title of the bill.
The text of the bill is as follows:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Pacific Island Economic and Educational Development Act of 2007''.
SEC. 2. PACIFIC ISLAND COUNTRY EXCHANGES.
There is authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary of State $1,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2008 and 2009 for exchanges with Pacific Island countries carried out under the educational and cultural exchange programs of the Department of State.
SEC. 3. USAID IN PACIFIC ISLAND COUNTRIES.
The Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is authorized, upon request by the government of a Pacific Island country, to provide to such government technical and other assistance.
SEC. 4. J. FULBRIGHT EDUCATIONAL EXCHANGE PROGRAM.
(a) Findings.--Congress finds the following:
(1) From 1949 until 2003, the Department of State awarded 13,176 Fulbright Scholarships to students from East Asia and the Pacific, but only 31 Fulbright Scholarships went to students from Pacific Island countries.
(2) In the 2003-2004 academic year, the Department of State awarded 315 scholarships to students from East Asia and the Pacific, but none were awarded to students from Pacific Island countries.
(b) Review and Report.--The Secretary of State shall conduct a review and submit to the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate a report regarding the marginalization of students from Pacific Island countries in the awarding of Fulbright Scholarships.
(c) Participation of Students From Pacific Island Countries in the J. Fulbright Educational Exchange Program.--
(1) ESTABLISHMENT.--The Secretary of State shall establish a program within the J. William Fulbright Educational Exchange Program (established under section 112(a)(1) of the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2460(a)(1)), commonly referred to as the Fulbright-Hays Act) to make awards to students from Pacific Island countries to permit such students to study in the United States pursuant to the terms and conditions of such Exchange Program.
(2) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.--In addition to amounts that are otherwise authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary of State for fiscal years 2008 and 2009 to provide awards under the J. William Fulbright Educational Exchange Program, there is authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary $500,000 for each of such fiscal years to provide such awards to students from Pacific Island countries.
SEC. 5. PACIFIC ISLAND COUNTRY DEFINED.
In this Act, the terms ``Pacific Island country'' and ``Pacific Island countries'' mean any of the following countries:
(1) The Cook Islands.
(2) The Federated States of Micronesia.
(3) The Independent State of Samoa.
(4) The Kingdom of Tonga.
(6) Papua New Guinea.
(7) The Republic of Fiji.
(8) The Republic of Kiribati.
(9) The Republic of the Marshall Islands.
(10) The Republic of Nauru.
(11) The Republic of Palau.
(12) The Republic of Vanuatu.
(13) The Solomon Islands.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on the resolution under consideration.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Madam Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 3062, the Pacific Island Economic and Educational Development Act. The island nations of the South Pacific, which include longstanding friends of the United States, face continuing challenges in development and education.
I want to commend the chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment (Mr. Faleomavaega) for his leadership in introducing this legislation and for working with us in the committee to refine it during the committee process.
Because the amended text deals with authorizations, not mandates or appropriations, it signals congressional interest in deepening our cooperation with the people of the Pacific Islands, while also allowing executive branch agencies appropriate discretion in carrying out such programs.
The text before us will increase the amounts authorized for U.S. educational and cultural exchanges with South Pacific nations to $1 million in each of the next 2 fiscal years, establish a Fulbright exchange program for Pacific Island students, and underscore the interests of the United States Congress in making appropriate USAID technical assistance available to Pacific Island governments.
I thank the gentleman from American Samoa (Mr. Faleomavaega) for accommodating some of our suggested changes. I am pleased to support the amended text.
Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. PAYNE. Madam Speaker, I rise in strong support of H. Res. 629 and extend my condolences and sympathy to the people and the Government of Greece for the grave loss of life and vast destruction caused by the raging fires that destroyed the homes, villages, farms, livestock, but not the spirit, of the country.
Since June of this year, the people and the Government of Greece have been battling forest fires due to extensive heat and lack of rain. An estimated 495,000 acres of mostly forest and farmland have been destroyed, the worst damage since the 1950s.
Today I stand with my colleagues, Chairman Faleomavaega and the ranking member, to avow close support and solidarity to a close friend, a strategic partner and a longstanding ally in this painful and difficult hour.
I applaud the administration's initiative to provide assistance and relief to the people of Greece, including its pledge of $1.5 million in aid, as well as expert and technical assistance. I have confidence that Greece and its people will succeed in overcoming the hardship incurred through this tragedy.