Mikulski Statement at Final Appropriations Full Committee Markup of Career

***Broadcast quality audio for download – Mikulski & Graham opening remarks

                                                                         Cochran & Mikulski opening remarks       


WASHINGTON, D.C.Today, U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Vice Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, participated in the Full Committee markup of the 12th of 12 bills for fiscal year 2017, as well as the final Appropriations markup of Mikulski’s career.  The Full Committee met to consider the fiscal year 2017 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations bill.


The following are Vice Chairwoman Mikulski’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:


“Thank you, Chairman Cochran.  And thank you to our State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee leaders, Chairman Graham and Ranking Member Leahy.  I also want to congratulate Chairman Cochran.  Today we are marking up the twelfth and final appropriations bill.


“It’s not just the Committee’s final markup of the year, it is my final markup as a member of the Committee.  I joined the Committee during my first Senate term.  I’m so proud of everything we have accomplished together.  The Appropriations Committee is a problem solving Committee.  We take our jobs seriously, providing annual funding and oversight. As we will today, we have vigorous debate on amendments and ultimately find compromise without capitulation on principle.


“I am proud of what I have been able to accomplish on the Committee.  As Chairwoman and Vice Chairwoman of the Full Committee, I have helped enact 12 of 12 bills for three years running, canceled sequester and fostered bipartisanship and friendship across the aisle and across the dome.


“As Chairwoman and Vice Chairwoman of the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, I’ve helped transform the Federal Bureau of Investigation from catching bank robbers to catching terrorists. I also worked to keep America pre-eminent in space with a balanced space program of human space flight, reliable space transportation, aeronautics and space science.  And as a member of the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, I’ve fought for our treasured allies and fought for women and children around the world. 


“I have had so many allies, and so much help from Chairman Cochran, all of the current members of the Committee, and all those who came before.


“But today is about the work done by Chairman Graham and Ranking Member Leahy on the State and Foreign Operations bill.  They did a good job with the resources available.  This bill is America’s public diplomacy and key tool in our national security efforts.


“So much important work is done through this bill.  It provides assistance to our treasured allies Israel and Jordan, keeps our embassies safe, helps neighbors in this hemisphere, fights despicable human trafficking and protects vulnerable populations.  I understand that amendments will be offered on two issues I consider poison pill riders.  I look forward to supporting Senator Shaheen’s amendment on the global gag rule and Senator Merkley’s amendment on the Green Climate Fund.


“While the bill has flaws we hope to fix, I appreciate the good, bipartisan agreement in much of the bill.  We need our State Department’s dedicated Foreign Service Officers to prevent and end conflict around the world.  The bill provides critical funding for their work as well as the full request for embassy security to ensure the safety of all the people who work in our embassies and diplomatic posts.


“America does not stand alone in the world.  To protect our national interests, we rely on treasured allies.  I am glad this bill remains steadfast in our support of Israel with security and refugee assistance $300 million above the request.  The bill also helps Jordan deal with more than 600,000 refugees.


“The State and Foreign Operations bill also helps vulnerable populations, saving lives and promoting democracy, by supporting Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO).  NGOs show the best of America around the globe, from tackling malaria to fighting vile human trafficking and helping refugees and children on the march.


“Our NGOs are the spirit of America – our spirit of reaching out to help others extends beyond our shores.  I am so proud of the work these NGOs do and their devotion to humanitarian assistance.  Maryland is home to many examples, including Catholic Relief Services and World Relief.


“Why is the work to support the vulnerable so important? Because we need to stand up for the future, the children of the world who are on the move and on the march.  Nearly 60 million people worldwide have been forced from their homes due to conflict and persecution. Refugees account for 20 million of those people – half of which are children.  This is not an isolated problem.  Children in Africa, Central America and the Middle East – both boys and girls – are fleeing so they aren’t forced into being child soldiers, sexual slaves or suicide bombers.


“What do these millions of refugees have in common? They’re desperately in need of life saving assistance: food, water, medical care and shelter.  Many will not be able to return home for years, if ever.  They cannot survive indefinitely on relief aid.  They are only asking for one thing: help.


“That’s what our foreign aid does to help those in trauma now.  It also makes sure trauma doesn’t turn to hatred tomorrow, because we turned our backs on them.  We all want to protect America, but the best way to protect us is through peace, ending wars – or never starting them at all, and creating allies around the world by helping those in dire need.  That’s why I support this bill, because the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill is a national security bill.”



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