|2:29 PM EDT||
Steven R. Rothman, D-NJ 9th
Mr. ROTHMAN. Mr. Chairman, I thank the ranking member for yielding me this time.
Let me just say at first that this bill is a well-crafted bill that I support within the confines of the amount of money that the majority has chosen to give us to work with.
I also want to acknowledge the extraordinary bipartisan work that has taken place here, and I want to thank our chairman and his staff for reaching out to us in the minority to include our priorities as well. I think this is a real bipartisan effort, and I am grateful for that.
I also want to acknowledge the support of our ranking member, the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Obey), and I want to thank our chairman, the gentleman from California (Mr. Lewis), for all their support of the foreign operations bill this year and over the years.
Mr. Chairman, most Americans believe that America spends 10 to 15 percent of its budget on foreign aid. That is simply not the case, though. We only spend about 1 percent of our budget on foreign aid, and that 1 percent is very well spent.
We use that money, that foreign assistance, to help fellow democracies stay strong and secure. We help struggling democracies who are undergoing tough times because of the neighborhood they live in or because of their own economies. We also help people who want to be free and live in a democracy help create democracies.
Why do we care about democracies, other than being Americans and we believe everyone has a right to live free? Because we know that democracies are good trading partners and they do not go to war against one another. So there is a very practical reason for our foreign assistance program.
Beyond that, of course, is the humanitarian obligation, the moral obligation that we have to help people in need. Virtually every major religion in the world acknowledges our moral obligation to help poor people and those in need of charity and compassion. [Page: H5289]
So for all those reasons, Mr. Chairman, I believe this foreign aid bill is important. I do regret that the Global Environmental Facility is not being funded under this bill, and I look forward, as the chairman suggests, to that money perhaps being included in conference. That would make this bill complete. Then, of course, if there were as much money as the other body is designating for this foreign assistance, that would be even better.
But this is a good, bipartisan bill, because foreign assistance is in America's vital national interest, and also because it is the right thing to do.