Chairwoman Lowey Statement at Full Committee Markup of FY 2020 State and Foreign Operations Funding Bill

2019-05-16 10:48

Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee and the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Committee's markup of the fiscal year 2020 State and Foreign Operations bill:

Our second order of business today is consideration of the State and Foreign Operations bill.

I am pleased to present the FY 2020 State and foreign operations appropriations bill, which includes insights and input from my friend and Ranking Member, Hal Rogers. 

This bill reflects Congressional priorities that advance United States foreign policy. It upholds many bipartisan positions of this Committee and of Congress.

The allocation for all departments, agencies and commissions under the jurisdiction of this bill is $56.381 billion in discretionary budget authority. This 3.9% increase over the total FY 2019 enacted level supports important investments to protect our national security, fund our commitments, and repair America’s reputation internationally.

Let me turn to highlights of the changes in this bill, many of which reject the Administration’s unacceptable and irresponsible request and policies.

  • The 11 OCO accounts are collapsed into the base accounts for transparent accounting of the resources to fund our foreign policy and defend our national security.  It also moves many reporting requirements to the Committee report.
  • The Economic Support Fund is moved from title III bilateral economic assistance to title IV security assistance.
  • With this move, the Committee recommendation redirects most long-term development, democracy, and governance funding to the Development Assistance or Democracy Fund accounts, where they belong.
  • The Middle East general provisions are consolidated and outdated and duplicative language are deleted while maintaining all previous conditions and requirements.
  • This bill reverses the President’s Global Gag Rule and stops unnecessary restrictions on family planning and health funding.
  • It reaffirms longstanding support for multilateral organizations, which expands and extends our reach and maximizes the value of the tax dollars we appropriate.
  • Humanitarian and development assistance to the Palestinians is restored to continue the viability of a two-state solution by providing resources to international organizations working in the West Bank and Gaza.
  • Additionally, the bill provides permissive authority for the Administration to use funds in this, and prior Acts, to uphold the goals of the Paris Agreement and restricts funds from being used to withdraw from such agreement. 

Conservation and environment programs are strengthened, including vital funding to stop wildlife poaching and for adaption and renewable energy programs at prior year levels.

  • Embassy Security is funded at $6.07 billion, which is $658.9 million above the President’s request.
  • It provides the necessary resources to restore diplomatic and development capacity at the State Department and USAID by returning Foreign Service and Civil Service workforces to levels prior to the Administration’s hiring freeze.
  • To address the harmful policies of the Administration that perpetuate the challenges and increase migration to our Southern border, this legislation strengthens the fiscal year 2020 funding directives for Central America, including the Northern Triangle countries.

Significant limits are also placed on the Administration’s ability to redirect assistance outside of the region from prior year appropriations acts.

  • Additionally, the bill continues robust funding for global health programs.  It provides $5.930 billion for global HIV/AIDS activities, including $1.560 billion for the Global Fund, and clarifies the United States’ commitment to maintaining our 33% share of the fund.
  • Millions of women could access critically-needed health care with family planning services funded at $805.5 million, of which $55.5 million is for our worthy partner, the United Nations Population Fund.
  • This bill provides $4.165 billion for the Development Assistance account, including $925 million to increase access to basic education. It also maintains our commitment to food security, water and sanitation, combating trafficking in persons, and other long-term development objectives. 
  • Refugee and disaster assistance accounts are funded at $7.968 billion, including to Latin America, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.
  • We provide robust support to our key allies, such as Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Ukraine, Colombia, and countries in Eastern Europe.
  • The bill also provides, in a fiscally responsible manner, for the establishment of the new Development Finance Corporation, including $25 million for a new equity finance mechanism.

It also establishes stringent Congressional oversight of this new entity to ensure that we do not appropriate taxpayer money without knowing how it will work.

  • Finally, in recognition of strong bipartisan support, the bill includes $425 million for the Peace Corps, an increase of $14.5 million above last year.

Before I close, I want to recognize the Members of this Committee and the staff.  As you all know, after having to reopen the government and finish the FY 2019 process, the Committee was faced with a truncated timeline for the FY 2020 bill.  The Members of this Committee have—on both sides of the aisle—done a remarkable job.

And our staffs have done a great job as well.  The Subcommittee staffs have worked around the clock to prepare the bill and report before you today.

Therefore, I would like to recognize and thank my clerk, Steve Marchese, and his team—Craig Higgins, Erin Kolodjeski, Dean Koulouris, Jason Wheelock, Marin Stein, Jean Kwon and Clelia Alvarado.  I also thank Liz Leibowitz, who is missing her graduation from her master’s program at George Washington University to be here today, and Wendy Coursen, Kelly Healton, Dana Acton, and Elizabeth Stanley on my staff.  I also want to acknowledge and thank Susan Adams, the Minority Clerk, Jamie McCormick of the minority staff, and Alex Pinson of Ranking Member Rogers’ personal staff.

I now recognize my Ranking Member, Mr. Rogers, for his statement.

116th Congress