Chairwoman Granger Opening Remarks on FY 2012 State and Foreign Operations Bill at Subcommittee Markup
"Good morning and welcome to the subcommittee markup of the fiscal year 2012 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill.
"I want to begin by thanking Ranking Member Lowey for her dedication to this subcommittee. Mrs. Lowey and I have a unique partnership in this Congress. While we do not agree on some policy items, we are both very invested in the important work of this subcommittee and it is a joy to work with her and I respect her very much.
"I want to thank all the Members of our subcommittee for their participation and contributions to this bill. This is a very knowledgeable and engaged subcommittee.
"In the past, we have been able to fund important projects and take the long view, knowing that someday what we plant would bear fruit. But today is a different time. We are facing a global recession unlike anything in recent memory. Our debt is well over $14 trillion. Today, every dollar counts. This bill reflects these new realities.
"In the past we’ve sometimes measured success by the size of the check we write. Today, we have to measure our success by the size of the change we bring.
"The State and Foreign Operations budget makes up only one percent of our federal spending. However, we have to cut spending in every part of the federal budget and this bill is no exception. This year’s spending will return many of the accounts back to the FY2008 levels.
"But more than just cut how much we spend, this bill reforms how we spend. It strengthens the transparency and the oversight tools we have to ensure that the American people get a solid return on their investment.
"We don’t claim that this bill has all the answers. We do claim it asks the right questions. This bill reforms and refocuses the way we deliver our foreign aid.
"First, this bill asks the most important question we can ever ask: how does each program we fund impact our national security interest?
"If that question couldn’t be answered, we reduced the spending, added restrictions, or cancelled the program altogether.
"The bill supports our key strategic partner Israel by fully funding the Memorandum of Understanding. This subcommittee understands just how critical it is to support Israel, especially in this period of rapid political change throughout the Middle East. Our unwavering support is bipartisan and is clearly reflected in this bill.
"This bill supports ongoing programs in Iraq and Afghanistan but not without a serious look at the situations in these countries. Funding for Afghanistan is cut by $850 Million from the Administration’s request because prior funds are still in the pipeline that were withheld because the Afghans have not been able to live up to transparency and oversight requirements.
"We should not continue to appropriate funds until the Afghan Government implements the institutional changes they need to make. Corruption must be stopped or else it is our tax dollars that end up wasted. We believe our bill gives Afghanistan the tools it needs to succeed while making sure there is more accountability.
"This bill also asks that we remain committed to the work our troops have done overseas and does so by having a separate “Global War on Terrorism” title in the bill.
"In the past, most of this funding came in the form of emergency supplementals. These programs are too important to be funded without more thought and oversight. The reason we keep these funds separate is to give the most accurate reflection of what these temporary costs are in the frontline states of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is funding that should not be in the base bill.
"This spending is not a permanent part of our budget but it makes sure critical, temporary programs continue to be funded, such as the special inspectors general for reconstruction in both Iraq and Afghanistan security to keep our diplomats on the ground safe, funding for police training, and funding for Iraq’s Security Forces.
"The Global War on Terrorism Funds will help make sure we have a successful transition as our troops begin to withdraw from combat theatres.
"In this period of change throughout the Middle East, we have been forced to look closely at who exactly we are working with in the region.
"The Palestinian Authority, Lebanon and Egypt have gone through enormous change. There is still uncertainty about whether they will continue to work toward peace or allow extremism into their governments.
"This bill makes it clear that in order to continue to be partners of the United States these governments must demonstrate that they are committed to promoting stability and fighting our common enemies.
"In this bill, we have prohibited security assistance for Lebanon if the Lebanese government continues to be aligned with Hezbollah.
"It is unacceptable for our aid to support a government effectively controlled by a terrorist organization.
We have placed restrictions on our aid to Egypt. The Egyptians have been a key strategic ally and we value our military-to-military relationship.
"We will continue to support the Egyptian government as they go through its transition with the conditions that they will fully honor their treaty with Israel, end the smuggling tunnels, and make sure a new government is not aligned with terrorist organizations.
"The Palestinian Authority has been a recipient of economic aid and funding to support their security efforts.
"In the West Bank our security assistance has not only made the Palestinians safer, it has made Israel safer. This bill will only support economic assistance as long as the P.A. does not continue its pursuit of statehood at the U.N. and does not create a unity government with Hamas.
"That brings us to Pakistan. We will insist on full transparency and accountability for every dollar we invest in Pakistan. We have placed the toughest restrictions ever on our aid to Pakistan.
There are serious questions that we all have about our relationship and this bill hits these concerns head on.
"I worked closely with Chairman Ros-Lehtinen, Chairman Buck McKeon and Chairman Mike Rogers to make sure the conditions on our aid are tough and consistent.
"This subcommittee will continue to work closely with the Department of Defense and the Department of State to continuously monitor this relationship.
"This bill continues to support Mexico, our ally and neighbor, and addresses the unprecedented increase in violent crime they have experienced over the last decade.
"Mexico’s security has a direct impact on our national security. Through the Merida Initiative, we made significant investments in police training and equipment so the Mexican government had the weapons and equipment to fight back against the drug cartels.
"Now that we have moved beyond Merida, we need to support the Mexican government as they reform their entire judicial system and make other significant institutional reforms to roll back the violence that has claimed over 40,000 lives.
"Moving from National Security to our humanitarian efforts, this bill continues to support the Peace Corps. I want to thank Congressman Sam Farr for his commitment to the program.
We cannot afford to fund the Corps at the Administration’s request but this subcommittee understands just how important this program is.
"This bill increases accountability for international organizations. We have to change the way we do business with the United Nations. This bill will make sure that the U.N. is more transparent. Our contributions are now contingent on the U.N.’s ability to publicly disclose all internal audits and reviews. The secrecy about how the U.N. spends U.S. taxpayer dollars must come to an end. In addition, we also prohibit funds for U.N. organizations headed by terrorist countries.
"In 2009 the previous majority authorized and appropriated $108 billion for the International Monetary Fund. In addition, we authorized the IMF to sell 13 million ounces of its’ gold reserves to help pay for their operational expenses.
"The IMF has completed these sales at record high prices for gold, and they are sitting on over $10 billion in profits. Since then, this subcommittee has repeatedly asked for spend plans and for the IMF to be accountable to the Congress. Over and over they have failed to respond.
"In turn we cannot answer questions from our taxpaying constituents as to why billions of dollars of their money continues to fly out the door to bail out fiscally irresponsible European governments – and their debt holders – and distorting free markets. In this bill we are rescinding the $108 billion that was appropriated in 2009. It is time for the United States to stop contributing to the bailouts of European governments.
"In closing, this bill lives up to our commitment to oversight. We have held over 20 hearings and member briefings. Mrs. Lowey and I have asked for three reviews from the Appropriations Committee Surveys and Investigations unit to look at the U.N., U.S.AID and hiring at State.
"This bill is a re-focused way of investing our money around the world. This bill will assess our foreign aid based on what works and our ability to measure our success. We will hold accountable those who cannot live up to our constituents’ expectations.
"In this difficult geopolitical and economic climate, the American people deserve a policy that is based on American principles, looks out for American interests, and wisely invests American dollars. That’s what this bill is. Nothing more. Nothing else. Nothing less.
"I want to take a moment and thank the staff for its outstanding work on this bill. Your dedication to your work has produced a bill that will make America safer and stronger.
"I want to thank the staff who put in many nights and weekends to make this bill possible. The staff’s loyalty and dedication is recognized. From the Majority staff I want thank the clerk Anne Marie Chotvacs, Alice Hogans, Craig Higgins, Susan Adams, Clelia Alvarado, and Jaime Guinn. From my personal staff I want to thank Johnnie Kaberle and Aaron Ranck.
"From the Minority staff I want to recognize Steve Marchese, Erin Kolodjeski and Talia Dubovi in Mrs. Lowey’s personal office."