Chairwoman Lee Floor Remarks on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Bill

2021-07-28 14:14

State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-CA-13) today delivered the following remarks on the House Floor in support of H.R. 4373, the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations bill:

I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I am very proud to present the fiscal year 2022 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations bill for the first time as Chairwoman of this critically important subcommittee.  Indeed, it is an honor to be entrusted with the responsibility of managing the SFOPS bill, which has been a key component of United States foreign policy since World War II. 

The resources provided in this bill are based on the fundamental generosity of the American people, but they also protect and advance our national security, economic prosperity, and global leadership.  I commend the Biden-Harris Administration and our Chair, Rosa DeLauro, for recognizing the importance of the State and Foreign Operations budget, and I urge my colleagues to follow suit by supporting the bill. 

With unprecedented levels of human suffering and so many complicated challenges around the world, the bill rightfully increases funding for global health and the prevention of future pandemics and for migration, refugee, and disaster assistance, and continues our support for key allies and partner organizations such as the UN.  These are just a few of the many ways the SFOPS bill meets urgent humanitarian needs, many of which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID pandemic has caused significant economic and social harm.  That is why the development investments in this bill are especially crucial as we strive to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, including eliminating extreme poverty, achieving an AIDS-free generation, and supporting efforts to build inclusive, equitable, and accountable societies for everyone.

Let me address directly some of the questions I’ve heard about what the SFOPS bill does and does not include. 

To my friends who focus – as I do – on women’s global health, the fiscal year 2022 SFOPS bill substantially increases funding for bilateral family planning for the first time in a decade to $760 million, which is an $185 million increase over last year.  It also more than doubles our contribution to UNFPA to $70 million, which we know was completely cut off and politically scapegoated during the previous Administration.  

Just as important, the bill does not include previous years’ policy riders like the harmful and, frankly, sexist, Helms Amendment and the Global Gag Rule, which only served to undercut our programs’ effectiveness and ability to provide women, particularly women of color, with comprehensive health care. 

To my friends committed to fighting the climate crisis – this year’s SFOPS bill provides a $1.6 billion contribution to the Green Climate Fund, which is the first direct appropriation this House has provided for the Fund.  Along with an additional $1.4 billion for our other environmental programs, this bill invests $3 billion to combat the climate crisis, which will help ensure that the United States resumes its leadership  in this global fight and work in partnership with other countries. 

To my friends who requested increased funding for our own hemisphere – this year’s House bill includes a 25 percent increase for the Caribbean, including $10 million in new funding for projects in the Caribbean to promote inclusive economic growth. The bill also includes $350 million more than last year for assistance to Central America, which is urgently needed in the Northern Triangle to address the root causes of migration and to help combat corruption and impunity, which are so endemic among local government officials. We all have met and are haunted by the experiences that migrants have conveyed to us – despite all odds – about their dangerous journey across Mexico. We must do better so that the U.S. border is not their last, best hope for survival.  That is why the House bill makes targeted investments in local communities through trusted NGOs while holding national governments accountable.

The bill also provides critical support for vulnerable communities in Africa and upholds our abiding commitments to the security of our allies, such as Israel, Jordan, Ukraine, and Colombia.  Many of our partners continue to struggle with growing economic challenges at home resulting from conflicts in their region, migration, and the impact of COVID-19. 

The SFOPS bill and report make clear our support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and we’ve increased assistance to the Palestinian people by $150 million over last year’s bill and eased the burdensome requirements on the Administration’s ability to contribute to UNRWA.  

Crucially, and of great importance to me, the bill also helps ensure that our nation’s diplomatic and development workforce reflects the diversity of the American people, by increasing funding and providing authority and guidance to equip the Secretary of State and USAID Administrator to make meaningful progress in increasing diversity and inclusion in the nation’s international affairs workforce.

Lastly, to my friends who passionately advocate for human rights, democracy, the rule of law.  I share your goals and your values.  The SFOPS bill may not solve all the world’s problems, but it certainly makes new and significant gains on many different fronts.  We include new oversight and accountability requirements on our security assistance which will better align such aid with our national security policy before it is provided.  And we provide support to civil society leaders around the world who are working to make their communities and societies more equitable and inclusive.  We also include $18 million for the Tibetan people.  I want to particularly thank the Speaker and my friend Chairman McGovern for their work on this issue.

I have many more examples, but my time is limited.  I will conclude by urging my colleagues to consider the very positive and considerable progress we’ve made in this year SFOPS bill in reversing the devastating consequences from the last Administration’s foreign policy failures.  Restoring American credibility and leadership on the world stage is no easy task, but the bill makes unequivocal commitments to diplomacy and development in addition to improving the lives and livelihoods of millions of people around the world. 

I urge your support of the SFOPS bill and reserve the balance of my time.

117th Congress