Chairwoman Lowey Floor Remarks on Four-Bill Appropriations Minibus

2020-07-23 11:12

WASHINGTON — House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey today delivered the following remarks on the House Floor in support of H.R. 7608, a minibus of four fiscal year 2021 appropriations bills:

Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

This minibus combines four bills:

  • State and Foreign Operations;
  • Agriculture-Rural Development-FDA;
  • Interior-Environment; and
  • Military Construction and Veterans Affairs.

The package is the product of months of thoughtful deliberation and input from Members on both sides of the aisle. I am proud of the work we have completed under the incredibly difficult circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This appropriations package addresses urgent national priorities. I would like to highlight a few key successes that our Cardinals have secured:

  • Strong funding and protections to help put nutritious food on people’s tables during this time of economic crisis and rising food insecurity;
  • Increased investments in broadband to connect more Americans to work, school, health care, and family;
  • Robust funding to protect the environment and build resilience to climate change; and
  • $12.5 billion in emergency funding to address sharply rising veterans’ health care costs.

I am proud that the package also includes strong emergency appropriations to confront coronavirus and support economic recovery, with investments in critical infrastructure and coronavirus preparedness, response, and relief domestically and globally.

Turning to the State and Foreign Operations division: It is bittersweet to bring my last State and Foreign Operations bill to the floor before I retire.

As Subcommittee Chairwoman or Ranking Member for two of my three decades here, I am honored to have been entrusted with this responsibility on this bill that has been a key component of United States foreign policy since World War II.

The work of the subcommittee has been marked historically by bipartisanship, and I thank former Chair and Ranking Member Hal Rogers and former Chair and Ranking Member Kay Granger for their partnership to advance this vital legislation each year.

Pivotal moments, from September 11th to the devastation the coronavirus pandemic continues to cause, underscore the significant value of foreign aid.

It promotes freedom and democracy and supports global development and security, all of which increase stability and mitigate threats to Americans here at home.

Indeed, our own children and grandchildren are more secure as a result of U.S. foreign assistance that has made the world better, safer and healthier for generations, efforts that are continued in the FY 2021 State-Foreign Operations bill we consider today.

With a total of $65.87 billion, it rejects the President’s “go-it-alone” approach to foreign policy. The bill includes:

  • $47.85 billion in base funding;
  • $8 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations funds for base requirements that otherwise would not be funded by the President’s budget request; and
  • $10.018 billion in urgently-needed coronavirus emergency funding to mitigate COVID-19’s impact on our health and economy.

To ensure this pandemic does not derail decades of development gains, this bill provides $3.8 billion in base funding for development assistance. This includes $975 million to increase access to basic education, of which not less than $150 million shall be spent on girls’ education in areas of conflict.

It effectively addresses food insecurity, poor water and sanitation services, trafficking in persons, and other long-term development objectives.

The bill’s holistic approach to global health seeks to bolster low- and middle-income countries’ management of health threats and communicable diseases.

It would sustain progress against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria with $5.93 billion for global HIV/AIDS activities, including $1.56 billion for the Global Fund, for which it clarifies the U.S. commitment to our 33% share.

It also reverses the President’s Global Gag Rule, stops counterproductive restrictions on family planning and health funding, and includes $805.5 million for family planning services, of which $55.5 million is for the United Nations Population Fund.

The bill provides restoration of funds for the World Health Organization to ensure American influence in an organization critical to the development and distribution of vaccines.  

To address policies of the Administration that harm our neighbors and drive migration, the bill amends prior-year appropriations Acts to significantly limit the President’s ability to redirect assistance outside of the region.

It also maintains robust funding for counter-narcotics and law enforcement efforts in Colombia, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean; includes $68 million to address international organized crime; and maintains funding to combat cybercrime.

The bill provides $9 billion for security assistance to key allies and partners with support for programs in Eastern Europe, Jordan, and Tunisia. It keeps the commitments of the United States at Camp David to promote peace in the Middle East by providing $3.3 billion in aid for Israel’s security as well as assistance for Egypt.

It restores humanitarian and development assistance to Palestinians with resources to organizations working in the West Bank and Gaza and advances a bipartisan priority with $50 million to fund a new partnership for peace that would strengthen economic development and engagement between Palestinians and Israelis.

It includes $7.83 billion in refugee and disaster assistance, including to Latin America, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.

Additionally, the bill prioritizes the security of diplomatic and development staff and facilities with $6.1 billion for embassy security, which is $692.2 million above the President’s request.

To effectively engage allies and reclaim our leadership role, this bill reaffirms our support for international partners and multilateral organizations, which extends the impact of our assistance and facilitates delivery of urgent aid to mitigate human suffering.

Lastly, to combat the destabilizing and persistent threats posed by climate change, the bill provides funds in this and prior Acts to support multilateral efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It also strengthens conservation and environment programs and continues funding for adaptation and renewable energy programs at prior-year levels.

This bill reflects our common belief in the absolute necessity of effective diplomacy, global engagement, and robust development assistance to protect our own national security even as we address moral imperatives beyond our own borders.

I thank my subcommittee staff who have worked in difficult circumstances to prepare the bill, including Majority Clerk Steve Marchese and staff Craig Higgins, Erin Kolodjeski, Dean Koulouris, Jason Wheelock, Marin Stein, Jean Kwon, and Clelia Alvarado; Minority Clerk Susan Adams, Jamie McCormick, and Austin Gage of Ranking Member Rogers’ Congressional staff; and finally Wendy Coursen, Kelly Healton, Dana Acton, and Elizabeth Stanley in my Congressional office. I express my gratitude to more past staff members and fellows than we have time to name today who have supported my work on the subcommittee and would like to enter a list of their names into the record.

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

116th Congress