Chairwoman Granger Opening Statement on FY 2013 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill for Full Committee Markup
May 17, 2012 -
I thank the Chairman for yielding.
I want to begin by thanking Ranking Member Lowey for her continued dedication to the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee. Mrs. Lowey and I have a unique relationship. While we do not agree on everything, we do have a strong working relationship and I respect her very much.
I want to thank all the Members of our Subcommittee – from both sides of the aisle – for their participation and thoughtful contributions to this bill.
The bill before us saves taxpayer dollars by spending 9 percent less than last year. We do this by terminating ten programs, rescinding funds, and not providing new appropriations if funds are still in the pipeline.
At the same time this bill supports critical activities related to our national security, such as assistance for Israel and Mexico.
The bill restores some of the misguided reductions proposed by the President for Global Health, refugee programs, democracy promotion, and international broadcasting.
This Subcommittee believes that our foreign assistance should support our foreign policy objectives and also reflect the values and principles of the American people.
Going through each account, we asked how each program impacts our national security and we looked to see if the conditions on aid are flexible enough to respond to changing situations around the world – some of them for the better and some for the worse.
Since the start of the Arab uprisings we have been constantly watching the situation throughout the Middle East and closely examining who exactly we are working with.
While we are not providing the Administration with a new account as they requested, we are providing some flexibility to respond to the rapid change in a way that keeps the Congress directly involved in the oversight of the funds.
One of the situations we have watched is our relationship with Egypt as that country goes through a difficult transition. Because of events over the last year that tested our relationship – and because we do not know what stance the new Egyptian government will take toward the United States – we have put added restrictions on their aid. .
This bill keeps aid for the Palestinian Authority under close scrutiny. In this year’s bill we reiterate that our economic assistance will stop if the Palestinian Authority achieves statehood at the United Nations, or if they form a unity government – or even if they have an agreement – with Hamas.
As a result of the events over the last year, this bill does not provide contributions for UNESCO, consistent with U.S. law that prohibits funding for any UN agency that grants statehood to the Palestinian Authority.
The bill continues to support our key strategic partner Israel by fully funding the Memorandum of Understanding. This committee understands just how critical it is to support Israel.
We also provide additional support for our ally, Jordan. Jordan is a critical partner in the war on terrorism and time and again, Jordan proves to be a regional leader by bringing the Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table.
This bill also supports the work our troops are doing overseas and includes $8.2 billion in a separate overseas contingency operations section called OCO.
We keep this spending separate to give the most accurate reflection of what these temporary costs are. And we are doing what we pledged to do – this year, OCO spending is reduced by 26 percent below fiscal year 2012, and these costs will continue to decrease.
This bill takes the lessons learned in Iraq and begins to apply those lessons to how we approach Afghanistan.
As our military presence decreases in Afghanistan, we have to ensure that our State Department and USAID staff – those who are responsible for delivering assistance – are safe and secure as the Afghan Government takes over security responsibilities for the country.
We have to be realistic about the risks and the costs. This bill withholds State Department funds for Afghanistan until we get a transition plan and more details on how we are going to keep our people safe on the ground. In addition, this bill keeps the focus on fighting corruption in Afghanistan that Mrs. Lowey began while she was chair.
Taking into account the concerns of Members on both sides of the aisle, this bill takes a very cautious approach on Pakistan. The bill includes stringent conditions on the aid and no appropriation is provided for the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund.
This bill continues to support our neighbor Mexico. Mexico’s security has a direct impact on our national security. We cannot back down on our support and this bill makes it easier for the United States to deploy resources to help the Mexican Government fight the drug cartels.
We also support the work the Government of Colombia is doing to train partners in the region and around the world to fight drug trafficking and improve law enforcement.
Moving to our participation with international organizations, this bill increases accountability for the money we provide to the United Nations and other multilateral groups and our contributions are now contingent on disclosing all internal audits and reviews online for American taxpayers to see.
In closing, this bill is a re-focused way of investing our money around the world. In this difficult climate, our foreign aid must be based on a model that reflects American principles, looks out for American interests, and wisely invests American dollars.
This bill assesses our foreign aid based on our national security and only supports programs that work. We will hold accountable those who cannot live up to our constituents’ expectations.
I know it is said often but I want to express my most sincere gratitude for the hard work of the staff on both sides. I yield back to the Chairman and thank him as well for his support for the Subcommittee.