Chairwoman Lee Statement to Rules Committee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Program Bill

2021-07-27 15:20

State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-CA-13) today delivered the following remarks to the House Rules Committee in support of an appropriate rule for the House to consider H.R. 4373, the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations bill:

Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Cole, and Members of the Rules Committee:

As Chairwoman, I’m pleased to present this year’s Department of 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. 

For a fraction of the overall federal budget, the House bill equips the Biden-Harris Administration with critical funding to address the multitude of global challenges we face as a reliable ally, credible partner, and trusted leader.

The world continues to combat a once-in-a-century devastating pandemic.  The House bill invests $10.6 billion in global health and the prevention of future pandemics by improving the surveillance, detection, and response capabilities of developing countries around the world and increases investments in childhood vaccinations, maternal health, tuberculosis, and HIV to aid their recovery from pandemic setbacks.

The COVID pandemic has also caused significant economic and social harm.  That is why the development investments in the 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.

The bill also restores America’s leadership in combating the climate crisis, by including a $1.6 billion contribution to the Green Climate Fund, the first direct appropriation for the Fund.  This contribution is part of more than $3 billion in funding included for environmental programs.  These funds will assist millions of people at greater risk of hunger, disease, and displacement due to climate change. 

For the health and safety of women and their families, the bill permanently repeals the Global Gag Rule and stops counterproductive restrictions on family planning and health funding, while increasing funding to ensure that millions of women can access critically needed health care.

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, authority, and guidance to equip the Secretary of State and USAID Administrator to increase diversity and inclusion in the nation’s international affairs workforce. 

The House bill reaffirms Congress’ support for a two-state solution in the Middle East; maintains our commitment to international basic education; designates new funding to support the rights and empowerment of women in Afghanistan; and provides the requested funding for Central America. 

The bill also provides critical support for vulnerable communities in Africa and for our neighbors in the Caribbean – two regions that have historically been underprioritized in U.S. foreign policy. 

I am particularly pleased with what we were able to do for the Caribbean in this bill.  The islands of the Caribbean represent America’s third border.  We share a vibrant cultural, social and economic bond with the Caribbean.  Thirteen million Americans—over four percent of the US population—trace their heritage to the Caribbean.

The FY22 SFOPS bill includes one hundred and five million dollars for the Caribbean, a twenty-five percent increase over last year’s enacted amount.  A portion of this funding will go to support the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, a landmark arrangement that allows the US government to partner with Caribbean countries on shared security challenges like transnational crime.  The bill further includes $10 million for new projects in the Caribbean to promote inclusive economic growth.

We also include support for the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to bring renewed diplomatic focus and resources to address the urgent needs of the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras—particularly through addressing the root causes of migration.

The halt in United States assistance during the previous Administration cost critical time and credibility needed to make progress on human rights, economic opportunity, combating corruption, and upholding the rule of law.  Our bill provides the resources, as well as accountability, to support progress and long-lasting impact towards this goal, particularly on fighting corruption and impunity in the region.

Finally, I want to highlight that the subcommittee received more than 6,500 requests from both Democrats and Republicans for our Fiscal Year 2022 bill, and we have worked diligently to ensure that Members’ priorities are reflected to the greatest extent possible.

As a new Chairwoman of this very important Subcommittee, I’m very proud that the bill and report before you today provide much-needed investments in the health and safety of our global community and in improving the lives and livelihoods of millions of people around the world.

This bill is an opportunity to reset the priorities from those of the previous four years.  It is essential that we not let that opportunity slip by.  I request an appropriate rule for Floor consideration of H.R. 4373.

117th Congress