Chairwoman Lee Statement at Full Committee Markup of Fiscal Year 2022 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Funding Bill

2021-07-01 09:21

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), Chair of the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Appropriations Committee's markup of the fiscal year 2022 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs bill:

As Chairwoman, for the first time, it is an honor to present the fiscal year 2022 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations bill.  The bill provides $62.24 billion in new discretionary budget authority, which is $6.7 billion above the fiscal year 2021 enacted level – an increase of 12.1 percent. 

I want to address right away the concerns of some of my colleagues regarding this increase and how we justify such spending.  The answer is the immense needs and challenges that we see outside our borders—issues that challenge our values and our interests, and, if left unaddressed, have the potential to rapidly impact our own communities here at home. 

A deadly pandemic still rages in most of the world.  New COVID variants, left unchecked, could soon overwhelm our domestic efforts to defeat the virus.  A global economic hangover caused by the pandemic has pushed millions who recently climbed out of extreme poverty back into deprivation.  We need to address this economic damage lest it slow our own recovery at home.  And the United Nations anticipates that more than 235 million people require humanitarian assistance and protection - which is a 40 percent increase over 2020 - and 80 million people have been forcibly displaced – the highest on record – the United States must lead.

An effective United States foreign policy rests on three D’s.  For a fraction of our federal budget, we can and we should increase our investments in diplomacy and development.  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.

The bill before us today includes $10.6 billion for global health and the prevention of future pandemics by improving the surveillance, detection, and response capabilities of countries around the world and increasing investments in childhood vaccinations, maternal health, tuberculosis, and HIV to aid their recovery from pandemic setbacks.

The House bill also prioritizes the resources, programs, and policies for the protection and advancement of women, including for family planning, which has not received an increase in funding in over a decade.  It also addresses outdated policy inequities that prevent women from getting the care they need.  We cannot make long-term gains toward the Sustainable Development Goals or any of our other development goals while leaving out the reproductive health care needs of women.  This is especially true now, after a global pandemic, which we know disproportionally affected women.

Like many of my colleagues, I care deeply about girls’ education, which has been dramatically interrupted during the pandemic, and women in Afghanistan after U.S. troops depart.  The House bill maintains the U.S. commitment to basic education at $950 million, which is $267 million above the budget request, and directs that not less than $150 million is spent on the education of girls in conflict settings.  The House bill also puts women front and center of United States engagement with Afghanistan.  First, it maintains all existing requirements on the inclusion and protection of women in Afghanistan programming, peace negotiations, and political processes.  Second, and most critically, the bill, for the first time, designates not less than $60 million to specifically support the rights and empowerment of women in the country as a demonstration of our deep commitment and concern. 

We are also increasing our commitment to combating the climate crisis, including a $1.6 billion contribution to the Green Climate Fund, which is the first direct appropriation for the Fund. Along with an additional $1.4 billion for our other environmental programs, we will assist millions of people at greater risk of hunger, disease, and displacement due to climate change.  Failing to make these types of robust investments is no longer an option.  Climate change is only becoming more expensive, more dangerous, and more devastating to our planet, with deadly effects here at home and overseas. The United States must lead so that other countries will follow.

The bill also supports the Administration’s goal of rebuilding our nation’s diplomatic and development workforce, one that reflects the diversity of the American people.  The bill includes increased funding, authority, and guidance to equip the Secretary of State and USAID Administrator to increase diversity and inclusion in the nation’s international affairs workforce.  

Lastly, the House mark also affirms our support for allies and partners around the world, by fulfilling our MOUs with Israel and Jordan, increasing our assistance for Eastern Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia as well as Central America.  We are also increasing our humanitarian and economic assistance for the Palestinian people and reaffirming strong support for achieving a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  We also address the needs of communities in the Caribbean and in Africa that quite frankly have frequently been forgotten.

In closing, I want to highlight that the subcommittee received more than 6,500 requests from both Democrats and Republicans for our FY2022 bill and we have worked diligently to ensure that all Members’ priorities are reflected to the greatest extent possible.  Our colleagues’ interest and commitment to global development, humanitarian assistance, and to our engagement with the world is clear. And I’m very proud of that the bill and report not only reflect these values but actually backs them up with the resources required to turn them into a reality.

117th Congress