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Foreign Operations Spending Bill Approved by House

In relatively quick fashion, the House on July 24 passed, 381-46, the FY2002 Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Agencies spending bill (H.R. 2506). The House began consideration of the measure last week (see The Source, 7/20/01, p. 2).

Members did not debate the merits of the Mexico City policy, which prohibits nongovernmental organizations that use their own funds to perform abortions or lobby on abortion policy from receiving U.S. funds. That policy went into effect early this year when the President signed an executive order; the bill maintains the prohibition. The bill would level-fund international family planning programs at $425 million and the U.S. contribution to the United Nations Population Fund at $25 million.

Reps. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Connie Morella (R-MD), Heather Wilson (R-NM), Robert Andrews (D-NJ), and Gene Green (D-TX) offered an amendment to provide an additional $20 million for tuberculosis prevention through the Child Survival and Health Programs Fund. The amendment was offset by reductions for the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency and the Asian Development Fund. The amendment was approved, 268-159.

Noting that tuberculosis disproportionately affects women, Rep. Morella stated, “TB is the greatest killer of young women in the world. In fact, TB kills more women than all causes of maternal mortality and more women than AIDS.” She added, “The global community must do more to adequately address this disease by investing in quality tuberculosis control programs, especially in countries with a high incidence of TB. The United States should lead the way with this seed money.”

The Child Survival and Health Programs Fund also received an $18 million increase when the House voted, 258-162, to redirect the funding from the Export-Import Bank. The amendment was offered by Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-IN). Of the $18 million, $5 million would be allocated to a vulnerable children program and $13 million would be allocated to HIV/AIDS prevention programs.

Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Jim Leach (R-IA) offered an amendment to increase the U.S. contribution to a global HIV/AIDS trust fund by $60 million, bringing the total contribution funded under the foreign operations spending bill to $160 million. The increase was offset by reductions in a counternarcotics program and foreign military financing. The amendment was defeated, 188-240.

Noting that U.S. funding for global HIV/AIDS programs “falls short of the billions required to fight the global AIDS crisis,” Rep. Lee urged adoption of the amendment. “I strongly believe that we must do everything that we can at every opportunity to bring us closer to that $1 billion level,” she said.

Subcommittee Chair Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) opposed the amendment, saying, “The amendment, while it may be well motivated, threatens the balance among competing interests, competing national interests that are found in this bill.”

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) offered an amendment that would have reduced funding for the counternarcotics program by $100 million. Of that amount, $50 million would have been earmarked for programs to fight infectious diseases and $50 million would have been earmarked for child health programs. The amendment was rejected, 179-249.

Arguing that the amendment would “make the difference between life and death for billions of people,” Rep. McGovern stated, “Child survival programs are critical to saving the lives of children…. Maternal mortality is on average 18 times higher in developing countries, and children are much more likely to die within 2 years of a maternal death.”

Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Morella, Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Tom Lantos (D-CA), and Joseph Pitts (R-PA) offered an amendment to earmark $30 million for trafficking victims. Saying that the amendment would “fulfill the promise of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act” by funding provisions of the Act at their authorized amount, Rep. Smith stated, “This is not only doable, it is a moral imperative.”

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) agreed, “The exploitation of our world’s women and children in trafficking is a tragic human rights offense.” The amendment was unanimously adopted, 427-0.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) offered and withdrew an amendment that would have increased funding for child and maternal health programs by $100 million.

Additionally, Rep. Tim Roemer (D-IN) offered and withdrew an amendment that would have increased funding for microenterprise programs by $12 million.

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