10:00 AM EST

Jim Kolbe, R-AZ 8th

Mr. KOLBE. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks and include tabular and extraneous material on the conference report to accompany H.R. 3057.

10:01 AM EST

Jim Kolbe, R-AZ 8th

Mr. KOLBE. Mr. Speaker, pursuant to House Resolution 532, I call up the conference report on the bill (H.R. 3057) making appropriations for foreign operations, export financing, and related programs for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2006, and for other purposes.

The Clerk read the title of the bill.

10:01 AM EST

Jim Kolbe, R-AZ 8th

Mr. KOLBE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased this morning to be able to bring before my colleagues in the House of Representatives the fiscal year 2006 Foreign Operations Appropriations Conference Report for the bill H.R. 3057.

There is no doubt that the conferees had a difficult challenge this year, working with an overall funding allocation that is almost $2 billion below the fiscal year 2006 request. This is nearly 10 percent less than the President asked for. Nonetheless, the conferees took on the challenge of making the hard choices necessary to meet budgetary realities while funding this country's top foreign policy priorities at responsible levels, levels that fulfill our foreign policy objectives.

The conference report continues strong and active oversight of the expenditure of taxpayers' dollars consistent with the mandate given to us by the United States taxpayers and the leadership of this committee and the Congress.

The conference report continues the Appropriations Committee's pursuit of accountability for the expenditure of tax dollars, in particular our foreign assistance program expenditures. The oversight of our primary agencies--State Department, Treasury Department and USAID--includes quarterly reporting of expenditures, consultation on major programmatic changes and limitation on expenditures until conditions on congressional notifications are met.

The conference agreement also establishes for the first time an independent inspector general for the Export Import Bank.

That, Mr. Speaker, is a very quick summary of the bill. Let me turn now to some of the highlights that are contained in the conference report.

First, with regard to overall funding, the fiscal year 2006 budget request for the foreign operations account or appropriations bill was $22.8 billion. As I already mentioned, the conference report funds our foreign assistance portfolio at $20.9 billion; $1.9 billion below what the President had asked for but $1.4 billion over the fiscal year 2005 conference agreement.

Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. The conference report includes $2.8 million for the third year of the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Here we are actually above the President's request by $268 million. This number is $629 million over the fiscal year 2005 level.

The conference report includes not less than $450 million, twice the amount requested by the President, for the U.S. contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation, or MCC. This agreement funds the MCC at $1.77 billion, $270 million or 18 percent above the $1.5 billion provided in fiscal year 2005. We are, however, and this needs to be noted, significantly below the $3 billion requested by the President for this year.

Mr. Speaker, I happen to be a strong supporter of the Millennium Challenge Corporation. I was there when the President announced the idea for it. I helped draft the legislation which ultimately ended up in our bill. I am a big believer in this new concept of delivering foreign assistance. But we did [Page: H9651]

have limitations, and I think that what we have done is a responsible way for it to proceed and make sure that we have adequate funding to continue and expand

the work of the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

The increase that we have for the MCC and the conference report comes because we recognize that the White House's top priority, and they communicated this with us, was the Millennium Challenge Corporation. But, as I said, our budgetary constraints left us with little ability to fully fund this important initiative.

Supporting the global war on terror. The agreement provides significant increases in our security assistance and anti-narcotics programs abroad for our allies in the war on terror. This includes fully funding the request for $2.3 billion for Israel and $1.8 billion for Egypt in economic and security assistance, and $300 million for Pakistan and military assistance.

Additionally, over $1.2 billion have been provided to the anti-narcotics and law enforcement accounts, $155 million above last year's levels. The conferees recognize that the illegal drug industry is not only a domestic issue facing the United States but one that funds international terrorism and organized crime, thereby threatening our borders.

Afghanistan. The agreement dramatically increases economic and counternarcotics/law enforcement assistance for Afghanistan at $665 million. That is $350 million above last year's level. This conference agreement fully funds the $430 million request for Economic Support Funds for Afghanistan, an increase of $205 million over the 2005 level. It provides $235 million for police and counternarcotics programs.

Importantly, the conference report includes new language that limits expenditure of about half of the ESF funds until the Secretary of State certifies to the committee that the government of Afghanistan at both the national and provincial levels is fully cooperating with the United States on narcotics eradication and interdiction efforts.

Iraq. In the case of Iraq, the conference agreement provides $61 million in ESF funds. The fiscal year 2006 request was for $458.5 from a variety of accounts to support activities in Iraq. This obviously is a very significant difference from what was requested. However, the committee noted that more than $3.5 billion of the $18.4 billion that was appropriated in 2003 for the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund remains unobligated. The conferees did not think it was responsible to direct new taxpayer

resources to Iraq at this time.

The conferees expect the administration to fund the remainder of its request for Iraq from the unobligated portions of the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund, and

we are convinced that the administration has the flexibility to do just that.

West Bank and Gaza. This agreement fully funds the request of $150 million for the West Bank and Gaza program, an increase of $75 million over the 2005 level, and retains the fiscal year 2005 prohibitions and restrictions on the expenditure of those funds, including the requirements for a GAO audit of U.S. assistance.

There is no request for direct cash assistance for the Palestinian Authority, and nothing in this conference report or accompanying statement of the managers provides for such assistance.

MDB oversight. The agreement includes a provision addressing anti-corruption measures for the World Bank and other reform provisions for all the multi-lateral development banks. It is our hope that these provisions will lead to greater transparency, less corruption, and more effective operations for our multi-lateral contributions to these institutions.

The Global Environmental Facility, or GEF. The agreements includes $80 million for the Global Environmental Facility. That is $27 million below the request, but it is a full $80 million more than was in the House-passed bill. The conferees were pleased to see that in the intervening months the Global Environmental Fund has agreed to establish a performance-based allocation system for the disbursement of funds, as it had committed to do in 2002.

Next year, my subcommittee will continue to conduct oversight of the GEF to monitor how the allocation system is implemented, but our inability to fund the full amount is simply a budgetary one, not because of any transgression on the part of the GEF.

There are many other items in the conference agreement that I do not have time to go into in detail, but let me just briefly touch on them.

$322 million for the Peace Corps. That is $5 million above last year.

$4.3 billion total for USAID, $121 million above the request and $93 million below last year's enacted level.

$440 million for bilateral international family planning programs, of which $34 million goes to the UNFPA.

The conference agreement does, however, retain current law on restriction and prohibitions on assistance, which I know will please some and make others very unhappy.

The conference report does not include the $100 million for conflict response funds that had been requested by the administration. We believe this is something that can be handled through reallocation of funds.

Let me close by thanking my ranking member, the gentlewoman from New York (Mrs. Lowey), for her continued cooperation and commitment in producing a bipartisan conference agreement. I say with all the sincerity in the world, it is both an honor and pleasure to work with a legislator as dedicated and hardworking as the gentlewoman from New York (Mrs. Lowey).

I also want to thank the ranking member, the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Obey), and my chairman, the gentleman from California (Mr. Lewis), for the support that both of them have given in bringing the product which we bring to you today.

I want to thank the other members of the subcommittee, the minority side as well as the majority side, who served on this conference and helped us in our deliberations and were such active members of all of the hearings that we held during the course of this year. I think our conference agreement reflects the spirit of cooperation that has been the hallmark of this subcommittee.

Finally, let me extend my thanks to the staff of the Foreign Operations Subcommittee. On the House side, Alice Hogans, Rodney Bent, Rob Blair, Lori Maes, Betsy Phillips, Nisha Desai, as well as Sean Mulvaney from my staff and Beth Tritter from the gentlewoman from New York's (Mrs. Lowey) staff.

On the Senate side, I want to thank Paul Grove, Tom Hawkins, Tim Rieser, Jennifer Park, Bob Lester and Harry Christy for the work they did in bringing this bill to where we are today.

This is a specially poignant moment for me and for the subcommittee as it will be the last time that Rodney Bent and Sean Mulvaney will be on the floor for one of our bills before they leave for different opportunities. While we wish them well in their new pursuits, they will be sorely missed by me and by the staff of the subcommittee. I thank them for what they have done through the years to help support the foreign policy of the United States.

Again, I thank my colleagues for their indulgence here. I thank them for the support they have given us. I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of the conference report.

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Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

10:13 AM EST

Nita Lowey, D-NY 18th

Mrs. LOWEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this conference report; and I urge my colleagues to support it. I want to thank Chairman Kolbe and our colleagues in the Senate for working with me to craft what I believe represents a good bipartisan and bicameral compromise.

This bill demonstrates the commitment of Congress to our Nation's foreign assistance programs and puts foreign assistance where it should be, alongside diplomacy and defense as a pillar of U.S. national security strategy.

In light of our conference allocation, which cuts nearly $2 billion from the President's request, we have put together a very good bill.

[Time: 10:15]

While I would have liked to see us maintain the Senate's level of funding for HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria, I am pleased that we have been able to increase funding by $125 million above the House level and $268 million above the President's request, including $450 million for the Global Fund.

I am also pleased that the conference agreement provides $440 million for bilateral international family planning programs and $34 million for the UNFPA. I am disappointed, however, that we could not retain commonsense provisions passed by the Senate that would have repealed the global gag rule and modified the Kemp-Kasten restriction. These provisions would have helped our programs be more responsive to the need for family planning assistance around the world.

I appreciate that the conference report includes increases over the request, the House-passed level and the fiscal year 2005 level for Development Assistance, including a $65 million increase in funding for basic education. Since Chairman Kolbe and I began working together, we have quadrupled funding for basic education, and I am delighted that the Senate agreed to include the House-passed level for this valuable priority.

The agreement fully funds our commitments to Israel and other Middle Eastern countries and provides increases for programs designed to mitigate ongoing conflicts. I am pleased that we retained the Obey amendment earmarking assistance for democracy and education programs in Egypt. We must use every tool at our disposal to encourage the government of Egypt to make greater strides in reforming its political process, and I think this bill sends that message.

I am greatly concerned about the impact of the October 6 earthquake on the people of Pakistan, and I think it important that we stand by Pakistan in this time of need. While this bill does not contain new funds for earthquake relief, I appreciate the inclusion of language in the Statement of Managers recognizing the need for additional funds and setting forth the expectation that some of the $600 million provided in this bill may be reprogrammed to meet relief and reconstruction needs.

I do feel that the bill has a few shortcomings. One is the funding for the Global Environmental Facility. Since the GEF recently adopted the management and transparency reforms advocated by the United States, I do feel we should have done our part by fully funding the fiscal year 2006 request. However, I understand that budgetary constraints limited our contribution to $80 million, and I hope that we can strive for full funding in fiscal year 2007.

I also regret that, while we fulfilled the administration's request for Sudan, the bill does not contain funding added by Senator Corzine on the Senate floor for the African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur. I hope that the administration will seek these funds at the earliest possible moment and any subsequent request for funding or reprogramming in this fiscal year.

Finally, I am pleased that we were able to achieve compromise language placing restrictions on military assistance for Indonesia and paramilitary demobilization assistance for Colombia. While I would have preferred the more robust Senate language on these issues, I believe the compromises we have reached address the concerns of all interested parties.

Finally, I want to thank again Chairman Kolbe for his hard work on this bill, his commitment on this bill. I really deeply appreciate the close working relationship which we have enjoyed throughout the years. It has really been a pleasure for me to work on these very important issues in this bill with him.

I also want to thank the members of my subcommittee for their commitment to the issues that we worked so hard on included in this bill.

I want to thank Chairman Lewis and Ranking Member Obey for their commitment and their cooperation in working on this bill and, of course, the staff.

Chairman Kolbe has an outstanding staff. Betsy Phillips, Alice Hogans, Rodney Bent, Rob Blair, Lori Maes, and Sean Mulvaney have been wonderful partners in this process; and we will miss a few of them who are moving on. Good luck to them.

Of course, our outstanding minority staff, it is always a pleasure for me to work with Nisha Desai and Beth Tritter. I thank them for their hard work as well.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

10:20 AM EST

David R. Obey, D-WI 7th

Mr. OBEY. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for the time.

Mr. Speaker, I intend to vote for this bill; but I want to make a few observations, some of which I find to be quite ironic in the process.

I want to congratulate the chairman of the subcommittee. He has done his usual workman-like job. He is a first-rate public servant, and I appreciate the bipartisan and nonideological tone that he brings to his work. That is fully appropriate to the nature of the bill that he brings to this House.

But I must confess a sense of irony. This Congress has already voted to provide $1.2 trillion in tax cuts for millionaires over the next decade. It has voted to provide more than $250 billion in spending for the war in Iraq; and yet, there are a number of Members of this body who begrudge the fact that in this bill you would find roughly $15 billion to be spent on what I would call the tools of peace and mercy: peace because I think economic assistance to the poverty stricken parts of the world

help create conditions that avoid war, and mercy because I think a good portion of this bill could be called the most important pro-life bill that we vote on each year.

Literally in the hour that it took to deal with the rule, you will have had several hundred children in this world die, and that is no accident. A lot of it occurs simply because of the negligence of the developed world, and I would like to think that that would rapidly change; but I do not expect to see it, unfortunately.

The New York Times wrote an editorial this morning suggesting that this bill be vetoed because this bill provides $2 billion or so less than the President supposedly requested to attack poverty problems in the Third World. I agree with the concerns expressed in that New York Times editorial; and I would say, imagine how different the world would be if instead of spending $250 billion on the dumbest war in American history, at least since the War of 1812, imagine how changed the world would be

if we led the world and provided just 10 percent that amount each year to see that by the end of the next decade we could deliver clean drinking water to every single human being on this planet.

Imagine how the world's attitude toward the United States would change. I doubt very much that you would see some of the poll responses that we see these days where a majority of people in all too many countries consider America to be a threat, unfortunately, rather than a friend. I think the view of the United States is unjustified; but nonetheless, that is the way a lot of people think around the world, and it is in very large part because we put so much money into an action like Iraq and put

so little money into helping people achieve the basic necessities of life.

But I do not think that this bill can be blamed for the fact that we fall [Page: H9669]

short of the President's budget for economic and anti-poverty help. What I do not understand is why anybody takes the President's budget seriously on this, because the President knew full well that while he was asking for this money, he knew full well that his allies in Congress would never allow that kind of an increase in foreign assistance as long as they were gleefully cutting

aid to children under Medicaid, as long as they were gleefully about to take 300,000 American families off food stamps, as long as they were gleefully cutting children off the SCHIP welfare rolls in this country. They knew that public opinion would not tolerate providing large increases even for starving people around the world.

So in that sense, I think the New York Times editorial is aiming at the wrong target. It is not the fault of the gentleman from Arizona or the gentlewoman from New York. It is not the fault of this committee that these misbegotten priorities are being carried out. It is the fault of the Republican Party leadership in this country, led by President Bush and the leadership in this House.

I want to say one other thing. We saw yesterday headlines about the fact that $100 million was being surreptitiously spent by this administration to develop secret detention centers where torture is performed around the world. What is ironic is this bill contains $21.5 million in appropriations for the victims of the torture. How hypocritical it must seem for the United States to provide money for the victims of torture at the same time that we allow torture to go on in our name around the world.

Do we really want to have people every time they hear the words George W. Bush, do we really want them to think in their minds George W. Pinochet? I do not; but, unfortunately, that is what you are going to trigger in people's minds around the world.

I hope that this Congress will live up to its responsibilities to end that practice by supporting the McCain amendment on the Defense bill. I hope that when that Defense bill leaves the House and goes to the White House that it contains that provision, despite the White House's threat of a veto, despite the action of the Secretary of Defense in opposing the McCain amendment. It is a moral imperative that we adopt that amendment on the Defense bill. Otherwise, the $21 million in this bill for

victims of torture is a joke and a sham.

10:29 AM EST

Bob Beauprez, R-CO 7th

Mr. BEAUPREZ. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman for the time, and I commend Chairman Kolbe for bringing this conference report to the floor; and I rise in full support of it.

U.S. foreign aid helps promote economic development and strengthens democracy certainly around the world.

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That being said, Mr. Speaker, our foreign aid and our Nation's gift to our friends around the world should not be taken for granted. We are not obliged to give foreign aid, and I believe the countries that receive that foreign aid should be held to certain standards, particularly living up to extradition agreements our country has made with them.

Included in this bill is a provision, section 581 specifically, that is going to help return cop killers to the U.S. to stand trial. For years, cop killers have been finding safe haven by fleeing the U.S. after committing their unthinkable crimes.

This problem came to my attention in May of this year when Denver Police Officer Donnie Young was allegedly executed by Raul Gomez-Garcia. After killing Detective Young and shooting and wounding his partner, Gomez-Garcia immediately fled to Mexico where he has since been tracked down and arrested.

Gomez-Garcia's extradition back to the United States is now pending, but only because Denver DA Mitch Morissey made the only choice available to him, and that is to seek a lesser plea bargain sentence. The United States should not be forced to plea bargain with other countries, nor should full justice be denied family members of assassinated cops. This appropriations bill will help us put an end to rewarding foreign nations with foreign aid that provide safe haven to cop killers.

Again, I urge its adoption and I commend Chairman Kolbe and the ranking member for bringing this to the floor, and Chairman Lewis and the full committee for the great work they have done on all our appropriations bills in this Congress.

10:32 AM EST

Barbara Lee, D-CA 9th

Ms. LEE. Mr. Speaker, first let me thank the gentlewoman for yielding me this time and Chairman Kolbe for his leadership. I want to thank both my colleagues for working each and every year to create a bipartisan bill that I think is worthy of our support.

I also would like to thank our staffs for working diligently and for their commitment to the issues which are in this bill, and especially I would like to thank Aysha and Christos on my staff who have worked tirelessly on these amendments.

I am very pleased that the Lee amendment to ban the sale and transfer of excess weapons for use by the Haitian National Police and the State Department accountability report of the police involvement in criminal activity were included in this bill. Specifically, my amendment prohibits all arms transfers and sales by the State Department for use by the Haitian National Police and requires an investigation into implications of senior and rank-and-file members in corruption, kidnappings, and narcotics

trafficking, as documented by the State Department's International Narcotics Control Strategy reports.

Additionally, not later than 60 days after the enactment, the State Department will report to Congress their findings on the investigations into police abuse, including whether any United States-supplied or -provided weapons or ammunition were used during massacres perpetrated by the Haitian National Police. Now, I expect these restrictions would apply to any money designated for Haiti, including the funding in the Foreign Military Financing Program, the International Military Education and Training,

and the International Narcotic Control and Law Enforcement programs.

This amendment is very necessary in the effort to restore democracy in Haiti. Haiti desperately needs humanitarian assistance; however, nonhumanitarian assistance, like weapons and arms, only exacerbates Haiti's [Page: H9670]

struggle with violence and criminal activity within the Haitian National Police Force and throughout the population.

Mr. Speaker, disarmament is impossible if we are complicit in sending arms to the country. With crime uncontrollable, human rights a distant goal, and elections on the horizon, it is unconscionable that the United States would support the sale and free transfer of arms. That is why I am pleased that the Foreign Ops conferees agreed to limiting the transfer and sale of U.S.-based arms to Haiti. It is necessary to help the curbing of growing violence and to support an environment for peaceful and

free elections.

I also appreciate the efforts by Chairman Kolbe and Ranking Member Lowey to get $2.82 billion in this bill for our global HIV and AIDS programs, including $450 million for the Global Fund to fight HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. While I believe, like many, that this number could be and should have been at least $150 million higher to match the Senate funding level, $2.8 billion is a step in the right direction.

Finally, I would like to say that I think our overall foreign aid budget should be significantly increased to alleviate poverty throughout the world.