Statement of Vice Chairman Leahy Opposing the Paul Amendment to the Humanitarian Assistance Supplemental
Four months ago, Republicans and Democrats came together and appropriated funds in the State and Foreign Operations Act that would help counter terrorism and human trafficking, promote democracy, combat poverty, provide humanitarian aid, and support global health programs. A bipartisan majority of Congress supported this funding and the President signed it into law. The Paul amendment proposes to rescind $4.6 billion, clawing back programs with a wide range of consequences.
Counterterrorism programs would be cut. These funds support programs that target vulnerable youth to prevent radicalization. These programs provide governments with the tools to counter the influence of violent extremist organizations, including by countering terrorism financing.
Programs to combat human trafficking would be cut by the Paul amendment. These programs support nongovernmental organizations that promote stronger government policies and programs to combat human slavery and trafficking. They help hold perpetrators accountable and support governments that are combatting human trafficking, and they help to protect victims of trafficking.
Programs that strengthen civil society, independent media, and promote democracy in Venezuela, Iran, Cuba, Hungary, Egypt, and many other countries would be cut. These funds support efforts to hold governments accountable for repression, promote freedom of expression and religious freedom, and provide services to victims of persecution.
The Paul amendment would claw back humanitarian aid. There are more people forcibly displaced in the world today than at any time since World War II. It is a global humanitarian crisis that is contributing to instability and insecurity, including in our own hemisphere. The amendment would rescind funding for U.S. refugee aid and aid to victims of famine, earthquakes, and other natural disasters.
And funding for PEPFAR, programs to combat malaria and TB, and other global health programs would be cut by the Paul Amendment. This includes programs to respond to deadly pandemics like Ebola.
There are countless other examples, since the Paul amendment uses a meat cleaver approach to demolish most of our international development and humanitarian programs that reduce poverty, respond to crises, build free markets, and strengthen democratic institutions.
Why are there unobligated balances in these programs? These funds were appropriated only four months ago and are available for obligation through the next fiscal year for multi-year projects. That is how foreign assistance works.
In the last two foreign aid appropriations laws, Senator Graham and I included targeted rescissions of funds that could no longer be spent effectively, or that were about to expire. That is the responsible approach, and one that preserves the integrity of the appropriations process. That is not the approach in this amendment.
I urge members to vote no on this amendment and pass the bipartisan bill reported by the committee 30 to 1 so that we can sit down with the House tonight to work out the differences with the House bill.
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