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

2021-06-28 19:55

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

As Chairwoman, for the first time, it is an esteemed 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 and $62.6 million below the fiscal year 2022 request.  The resources included in the bill represent much-needed investments in diplomacy and development, which have been overshadowed by the defense budgets for far too long. While we still have a long way to go, we’re making progress.  I commend the Biden-Harris Administration and our Chair, Rosa DeLauro, for recognizing the importance of these investments.

The devastating COVID-19 pandemic is the latest example of how interconnected the world is and how we are only as strong as the weakest country’s health system. That is why the bill before us today includes $10.6 billion for global health and the prevention of future pandemics, which will support the health of families and communities around the world through both bilateral and multilateral mechanisms. These investments will bolster the surveillance, detection, and response capabilities of countries around the world and bolster health investments in childhood vaccinations, maternal health, tuberculosis, and HIV and to aid their recovery from the setbacks they suffered during pandemic.

The COVID pandemic has not only set back key health indicators, but also caused significant economic and social harm to many developing countries.  The development investments in this bill are crucial to making progress towards reaching 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.

The House bill also prioritizes the resources, programs, and policies for the protection and advancement of women.  We are finally increasing funding for family planning, which has not received an increase in over a decade, and address policy inequities that prevent women from getting the care they need.  Throughout my international travels during my career, I have seen firsthand that we cannot make long-term gains toward 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.

Many of you have talked to me about concerns about girls’ education after the pandemic and women in Afghanistan after U.S. troops depart.  I share these concerns.  The House bill maintains the U.S. commitment to basic education at $950 million, $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 U.S. 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 the planet, with deadly effects here at home and overseas. The United States must lead so that other countries will follow.

The House bill continues to invest in programs that deliver needed humanitarian assistance to the record level of displaced persons globally, for programs to advance democracy and human rights, and funds for partner organizations like the United Nations, the Peace Corps, the Inter-American Foundation, and the U.S. African Development Foundation.

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. 

In my role as Chairwoman of this Subcommittee, I am committed to advancing real, impactful solutions to address entrenched institutional barriers to diversity.  I have been fighting for years to create more opportunities for people of color and other underrepresented groups in our foreign policy workforce.  It is past time to enact bold, forward leaning policy solutions.  The fiscal year 2022 bill is a major step toward equipping the Secretary of State and USAID Administrator to make long-lasting and measurable progress. 

Lastly, the House mark 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 for Central America and the Caribbean.  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 have frequently been forgotten.

In closing, I want to remind my colleagues that on his inauguration day, President Biden pledged that the United States would be “a strong and trusted partner for peace, progress, and security” with the rest of the world.  I am proud to say that the fiscal year 2022 House mark for the State Department, foreign operations and related programs backs up this commitment by providing the resources needed to turn it into a reality.

117th Congress